Through the Decades

Explore Delta's history and achievements and discover how the airline went from dusting crops to serving over 320 destinations on six continents.

Choose a decade:

1990s - Delta purchases Pan Am and becomes a global carrier


1990 Delta introduces onboard recycling: attendants collect aluminum cans on flights into Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Delta, Northwest Airlines and TWA combine reservation systems to form WORLDSPAN Travel Information Services. Delta participates in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) during Desert Storm/Desert Shield from 1990-1991, flying military charters.

1991 Delta purchases substantially all of Pan Am's transatlantic routes and the Pan Am Shuttle, making this the largest acquisition of flights in airline history. Delta becomes a global carrier. Former Pan Am Airbus 310 planes join the fleet. Delta is first to offer MD-11 jet service in U.S.

1992 Celebrates 17 consecutive years as the #1 major U.S. airline for customer service. Fewest passenger complaints from 1975-1991, as ranked by the Department of Transportation. New in-flight technologies include seat-back telephones, live radio news broadcasts; first U.S. airline with moving maps in the cabin showing aircraft’s position and route.

1993 MD-11's now equipped with a personal video monitor at each seat in First Class. Delta Connection is the first program to use regional jets in North America.

1994 Delta returns to profitability in fourth quarter, fiscal year 1995. Introduces Rapid Redemption, the airline industry's first program allowing frequent flyers to instantly redeem mileage for free tickets or upgrades.

1995 Delta named the official airline of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Receives J.D. Power Award for best major carrier for long and short haul flights. Introduces the airline industry’s first seasonal menus. First U.S. airline to ban smoking on all flights worldwide.

1996 Carries the Olympic Flame from Athens, Greece to Los Angeles for 1996 Olympic Torch Relay to Atlanta. Customers can make reservations and purchase tickets via Delta's Web site, SkyLinks. Delta is the first airline to offer in-seat power and live broadcast television programming.  Launches Delta Express low-fare airline.

1997 First airline to board more than 100 million passengers in a year. Begin expansion of U.S.-Latin America routes. Introduces new aircraft livery—the first in almost 30 years. First airline to offer spa cuisine, partnering with chefs from health resorts in the U.S. and Europe. Leo F. Mullin is named President and CEO.

1998 Delta and SwissCargo forge the first international cargo alliance. Delta is the first airline to install automatic defibrillators on board all of its aircraft. First and business classes on international flights become a single section of luxury seats called BusinessElite

1999 Air Transport World magazine names Delta its global Airline of the Year for 1998. Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine names Delta 1999's Best Managed Major Airline. Boeing 777 jets offer personal video screens at each seat in Economy Class.

Pan Am route acquisition ceremony 1991
Smoke free airline ad 1994
Delta BusinessElite seat 1998
Boeing 777 landing 1999