Post your NWA-Delta merger questions

News Cut’s role in the MPR coverage of the Northwest Airlines – Delta Airlines merger (which could be announced today) will be a fairly large in-one-spot series of questions and answers surrounding the merger — what happens to your frequent flier miles, how fast will fares rise etc.

If you’ve got some you want answered, post them here.

Both boards have “emergency meetings” scheduled, although the Wall St. Journal says if pilots haven’t given the deal their blessing by the time they’re held, there’ll be little action. The Detroit News, however, says the pilots have now signed on.

  • http://127.0.0.1 Mike

    How will this effect my miles? Should I use them quickly before the merger?

  • CRH

    Northwest has a reputation for really poor customer service, including late or canceled flights, surly flight crews, shoddy maintenance, missing baggage, and passengers trapped on grounded planes for hours and hours. I know that they have frequently left equipment for members of the National Fencing Teams–traveling to competitions–behind because (and I heard this one first hand) “it looked like a golf bag”.
    Huh?

    Several years ago, on flights from Europe to the US, they showed the movies “The Patriot” and “The Gladiator” back to back. I was on one of those flights and I was very grateful that my kids were not with me. That episode was bad enough to earn newspaper coverage. The flight attendants kept getting angry because so many of us were congregating near the washrooms where we did not have to see the scenes of torture, murder, rape, and bloody disembowelment (none of which are any easier to stomach without sound).

    I would not be upset to see Northworst leave the Twin Cities, and make more room for real airlines. I am concerned, however, that the merger with Delta will result in the construction of passenger refugee camps in the Florida Panhandle.

    If they do maintain a presence in the Twin Cities, will they lose their virtual monopoly status, and will that force them to raise their standards from obscene to merely pathetic?

  • bsimon

    I have a question for our state political leaders:

    Why do we bend over backwards to accommodate a company that keeps sticking it to us? The argument for accommodating Northwest’s monopoly in this market is that ‘they bring jobs’. But every time their workers’ contracts are up for renegotiation, Northwest cuts pay, cuts benefits and cuts jobs. Is this really the kind of corporate behavior we want to encourage in this state?

    I’d like to see more gates at MSP opened to other airlines. Perhaps kicking NW to the curb would induce a company like Midwest airlines to build a hub here.

  • http://minneapolis.metblogs.com Erica Mauter

    Somewhat related to what CRH said…

    What’s in it for me? How is this a good thing for the occasional, coach flyer (i.e., non-business/frequent flyers)?

  • Clark

    lets call this the Lying Liars buying the big lying liars. Anyone who believes this will be good for consumers is an idiot. Good for the CEO, good for the overpaid pilots but bad, very bad for consumers. In 5 years, anyone in Mpls that wants to fly to Florida will, I repeat will connect in Atlanta, the worst airport in the USA.

  • Bob Collins

    I believe Northwest has a stake in Midwest, so I’m not sure they’d move in.

    However, if Northwest cuts back on service here, especially direct service, doesn’t that pretty much open the door to Southwest?

  • http://minneapolis.metblogs.com Erica Mauter

    doesn’t that pretty much open the door to Southwest?

    Gawd, I hope so. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • bsimon

    Bob writes

    beleive Northwest has a stake in Midwest, so I’m not sure they’d move in.

    However, if Northwest cuts back on service here, especially direct service, doesn’t that pretty much open the door to Southwest?

    I’m not sure if the investment in Midwest has gone through, or not. Which is another question. How does a company just emerging from bankruptcy come up with $400 million (working from memory) to invest in a competitor? Does that smell fishy to anyone else?

    My other point: I mean an airline ‘like’ Midwest; whether its Midwest or Southwest or Jetblue or another is less important to me; I just want competition. Though I do like Midwest’s leather, more comfortable seats & fresh baked cookies.

  • Tim Neal

    Air line mergers along with deregulation does nothing to help the traveling public. The airlines need a dose of government regulation. Isn’t this our country? If so why don’t we start making the rules that benefit us.

  • LLewin

    If you all think NW is terrible and it will be good to get in other players, take a look at what happen to St. Louis and Kansas City when TWA was taken over by American. – Have fun connecting at Dallas Love Field for international flights with Southwest and kiss the non stop international service good bye. Losing a hub will be a major blow to international business for the Twin Cities.

    I for one have had very good service from NWA, not of course perfect, but it is the same as other U.S. carriers.

  • Greg

    Delta has an all boeing fleet, how would that effect some of NWA airbus pilots/maintenance crews. Would DAL most likely keep the agreement with Boeing and possibly sell the Airbus planes, or keep them?

  • Bhagawathi A

    Why would anybody oppose the merger? Job cuts are common in corporate America. A job loser will not stay idle forever. These mergers for sure will open doors for other flight companies and save people from the monopolized game by nwa. Why would Minnesota state depend on nwa only? Why not make more money by opening doors to competitors.

  • Andy Ferron

    What are the odds this merger would make it through the Justice Department review? If you remember a few years ago, United and USAir tried to merge and the deal eventually fell apart. Twin Cities-based travelers can only hope that happens here, too.

    Mass consolidation if airlines — such as immediately after deregulation in the 1980s — may benefit the bottom line, but it is terrible news for the traveling public. Northwest doesn’t exactly have a great history of merging gracefully, either. Labor problems between Republic and Northwest Orient in the mid-80s made flying the new Northwest pretty unbearable.

    The worst news though is that should Delta and NWA merge, I imagine the Twin Cities is likely to see pretty significant cuts. Say goodbye to routes like MSP–PVD and other small- and medium-sized cities over 500 miles away. Detroit is much more likely to retain its mega-hub status, being east of MSP, and Delta has a pretty big stronghold at Salt Lake City, so MSP would probably be caught in the middle.

    The good news is that if the merger goes through and any cuts are made to the daily schedule out of MSP, Southwest will likely be able to break in and could shake things up significantly, or, even better — maybe this is finally Sun Country’s big chance.

  • Rich G

    No matter how bad it gets, MSP does not want to loose its hub status. Look at Pittsburgh Intl. It was a Fortress Hub for UsAIR, very similar to MSP. Enough people complained, including the local government about the monopoly and high prices due to lack of competition. UsAIR was eventually broken on the prices and Fortress status. In response, it (UsAIR) removed virtually all traffic out of PIT (it was not due to the bankrupt issue that is commonly presented). UsAIR lost a tremendous amount of money in the deal because PIT was more than just a Hub, it was a center of maintenance for almost every airline on the east cost, and, albeit sitting idle, still maintains the largest load cell of any engine repair facility in the US. It is also the 4th largest airport in the US, significantly larger than both Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare combined.

    At the time, PIT was the largest and most profitable Hub for UsAIR, now it is a bankrupt White Elephant airport that has closed almost 50% of its gates (including 1 concourse completely, and 1/2 of 2 other concourses), and the remaining operating gates sit idle almost all of the time. This left one of the most efficient designed airports in the world as a virtual ghost town.

    Unfortunately, if MSP were to loose its hub status, in today’s Air market, it is unlikely that any other carrier would be able to support a hub the size of this facility. Not to be rude, but MSP is also located in the middle of nowhere, with minimal population density in the local area outside the Twin Cities population shed (hense why DTW is a much larger hub). PIT, DTW, CVG, PHL, are all located within approximately 90 min flight time of 70% of the US Population, making these locations more appealing to the mainline carriers.

    The Mainline carriers are well established, and the market is rebounding from the influx of low cost carriers; pointing towards favoring Mainline carriers. It is highly doubtful that a carrier such as Midwest would be able to utilize a HUB the size of MSP; or that Southwest would expand service to a fraction of the size of NWA in MSP.

    The Population size of the Twin Cities is not large enough to support a hub with only O&D (origination and destination) traffic. This is only successful in extremely large cities, such as New York, and LA.

    Everyone has had bad experiences with airlines, but NWA is no worse or better than any other US carrier. I formerly worked in Europe, with extensive travel on Delta, and have had plenty of bad experiences. Currently, I work in the Far East, and NWA is by far not perfect (as I work for a large Aircraft Manufacturer, I spend plenty of time in the air).

    No matter how bad it gets, MSP will want to hold onto its hub status as long as possible. It is likely that in the future, looking at the track records of Delta, that within 5 years, MSP will be de-hubbed and either CVG or DTW will also be de-hubbed as a cost reduction and to reduce overlapping coverage, with the majority of the service routed through Salt-Lake (SLC) for the west; and for the north east, routed either through CVG or DTW (which ever one is left). Any service from the MSP destined to the south will be routed through ATL

    There is a phrase in the Airline business that goes something like, “Even when you die, you have to transfer in Atlanta”.