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:

1950s - Delta expands internationally, pioneers the hub and spoke


1950 First official Delta souvenir for children, a paper Junior Pilot Certificate—handed out to both girls and boys.

1952 Delta flies Convair 340 planes; modified to Model -440 standards in 1956.

1953 Chicago and Southern Air Lines merger brings Delta its first international routes to the Caribbean and Caracas. Airline called Delta-C&S for the next two years. Delta inherits from C&S its first customer recognition program—Flying Colonel, one of air transport’s coveted awards. Lockheed Constellations join the fleet.

1954 First airline to supplement visual inspection of aircraft parts with a portable x-ray machine to examine interior structures. 

1955 Delta pioneers the use of the hub and spoke system. Scheduled airplanes bring passengers to a hub airport where travelers connected to other Delta flights. Delta wins Atlanta to New York route.

1956 Weather-avoidance radar installed in noses of all Delta aircraft.

1957 Forklifts and conveyer belts installed for handling cargo and baggage in all larger cities served by Delta. A new truck lift cuts in half the time it takes to load and unload planes. 

1958 Luxurious Douglas DC-7 Royal Service first-class flights offer three—instead of the usual two—flight attendants, boarding music by Muzak, complimentary champagne and steaks cooked to order. Children receive Delta’s first “kiddie wings” souvenir pins.

1959 Delta is first airline to launch Douglas DC-8 jet service. The red, white, and blue triangle "widget" becomes Delta's logo, resembling the swept-wing appearance of a jet.  First airline to offer complimentary meals on discounted coach flights.