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:

1970s - Delta celebrates 50 years going strong


1970 Delta has an all-jet passenger airplane fleet. Boeing 747 jets offer Delta’s first audio in-flight entertainment, including music by the Beatles, Burt Bacharach and Beethoven. 

1971 W.T. Beebe becomes Chairman and CEO. Delta Dash cargo service for small packages begins. Sky in-flight magazine appears: browse the first issue.

1972 Northeast Airlines merges with Delta. Delta now a major carrier in Boston and New York, with direct routes from NYC and New England to Florida, Canada, Bahamas and Bermuda. Boeing 727, and briefly turboprop FH-227B, acquired from Northeast join Delta's fleet. Aircraft cabins have separate areas for smoking and no smoking. 

1973 L-1011 TriStar service begins. First airline to simultaneously operate three of the first generation wide-bodies jets—the L-1011, Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 747.

1974 First of 17 consecutive years as #1 major U.S. airline for customer service. Delta has fewest passenger complaints as ranked by the Department of Transportation.

1975 First airline to offer its own air express service, a new high priority, guaranteed cargo service called Delta Air Express.

1978 The Airline Deregulation Act passes. Delta begins transatlantic service: Atlanta to London. Introduces Business Class (called Medallion Service) and motion picture film entertainment. Industry magazine Air Transport World names Delta its global Airline of the Year for 1977. David C. Garrett, Jr. becomes CEO.

1979 Delta celebrates its 50th year of passenger service; begins flights to Frankfurt, West Germany. First airline in the world to board one million passengers in one city in one month (Atlanta in month of August). Delta receives Public Interest Award from the Airport Operators Council International in recognition of jet noise abatement efforts.

Boeing 747 in-flight entertainment headset 1970
Northeast Delta merger