The “Going Local” blog series posts are meant to highlight local businesses and companies which have unique traits and drive the economy, culture, or both, across the Wasatch and Utah as a whole. However, with exceptions we will also focus on national or international companies which have chosen to root themselves here as well, even if they are based elsewhere. From one transportation company to another, we are more than happy to turn our attention to a major player in Salt Lake City: Delta Air Lines.
Initially a small crop-dusting operation started in the southern United States, Delta is now the eldest of the airline companies in the United States, weathering many storms over its lifetime. An intelligent business model coupled with some unorthodox approaches and innovations to travel have kept the company as a world leader in travel. It has grown from the company known as Huff Daland Dusters to the second-largest airline in the world, and one of the few to serve all six inhabited continents across the globe.
Delta’s story in Salt Lake City begins with a former subsidiary known as Western Airlines, which had begun to expand but ended up fully merging with Delta in 1987. Western originally started in 1925 as an air mail route under contract with the government between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, but grew to become an international carrier flying around the globe. In many cases, when airlines merge there are a lot of service cuts and hub reductions, to the detriment of travelers and the local and state economies. However, Delta did precisely the opposite, staking its ground with Salt Lake as a new western U.S. hub. Out of all of its airports, for Delta, Salt Lake City International Airport is their 5th busiest, ahead of JFK, LAX, and SeaTac.
Part of what makes Delta’s service stand out in Utah is the variety of places the airline serves. They have remained dedicated to the Intermountain West and surrounding region, and continue to serve small airports in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Utah. It says a lot when a large company does not forget about the smaller areas which still demand service. On the other end of the scale, Delta also has far-flung direct flights from Salt Lake to international destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France, making it even more convenient for global visitors to access all that Utah has to offer, and for locals to more easily explore the globe without having to go through the crowded coastal airports. Beyond Delta itself, the airline is a member of SkyTeam, a 20-member airline alliance with connections to over 1,000 destinations worldwide, plus codeshare agreements with Hawaiian, Jet Airways, Seaborne Airlines, Transavia, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and WestJet.
As the Salt Lake City metro area grows, so has the traffic at Salt Lake City International Airport. Further underlining Delta’s commitment to Utah is their investment and support behind the brand new airport being built in Salt Lake City. Delta has done a lot of other community good as well, serving as a sponsor for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The airline also carries thousands of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world from Salt Lake City as they leave from the Missionary Training Center.
Delta’s innovations as a company are far and wide, as the company collaborates with a wide variety of organizations. For instance, they partnered with the TSA to pilot an updated security screening system which is currently in place in Atlanta and JFK. This has already been proven to be much more efficient and faster at getting passengers through security. Delta also has switched to RFID tags for tracking checked luggage, which enables passengers to follow their bags on the Fly Delta app in real time. The company also finds creative ways to save costs which they can pass on to consumers, such as upgrading existing planes to bring them up to date or beyond. For this as well as their newest aircraft (a la Airbus A350 and Boeing 737-900 ER), Delta has won a multitude of accolades for passenger accommodation.
By connecting the world to Utah, and Utah to the world, Delta Air Lines is the airborne gateway to our home in Salt Lake. As Delta passengers utilize our service, and since we are also Delta customers ourselves when we travel, we would like to extend a sincere thank-you to the Atlanta-based company for what they do on the ground and in the air.