Unpublished Northwest Airlines photos from San Diego International Airport

Northwest Airlines A320 N337NW

I’ve mentioned before that I was raised in southeast lower Michigan (just north of Detroit), so those of you paying attention will know that Northwest Airlines has always been my “hometown” carrier. I grew up watching those red-tailed aircraft cross over our house on the approach path to DTW, and I was getting pretty good at knowing the schedule despite not having any written documentation to cross-reference.

The 747’s and DC-10’s from MSP and points beyond were an especially welcome sight to see mixed in with all the 727’s, DC-9’s, and 757’s that floated across the sky all day long in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Too bad I never thought to take photos back then – I’d love to have some of those images now even if they weren’t really all that close and I didn’t have a zoom lens on my crappy little camera.

Even after I moved 1800 miles west to southern California in 1997, watching Northwest Airlines planes fly in and out of SAN helped me to feel at home right away. They actually had a decent-sized schedule here at that time, flying to all their hubs (including MEM for a short time) on a semi-frequent basis. I arrived too late to witness the DC-10’s and 747’s that NW operated as tag-on segments to/from LAX, but nonetheless, it was always comforting seeing the familiar red tails here at my new home away from home.

I started photographing airplanes in the summer of 1999, and I was fortunate to have been able to get some fairly decent Northwest Airlines photos from SAN right up until they were completely absorbed by Delta in 2010. So – inspired by my recent post of my favorite Virgin America photos, here are some of my favorite Northwest Airlines pics over the years that I’ve never published anywhere else. They weren’t that exciting when I took them (after all, NW was a very common airline), but it’s fun to look at this stuff now that they are gone.

N364NW northwest a320 san diego
One of my oldest Northwest Airlines pics. This one was taken at gate 26 in terminal 2 east at SAN on March 27, 2001. Aircraft registration: N364NW.
northwest airlines A320 N345NW
Here’s a shot of N345NW arriving into SAN on May 8, 2004.
northwest airlines n376nw
Here’s a tighter shot of N376NW from the same location. Shot taken on May 21, 2005.
N376NW northwest airlines
N376NW shot from behind (taken the same day as the previous shot).
Northwest Airlines A320 N358NW SAN
Northwest Airlines A320 N358NW just about to kiss the tarmac here in San Diego. Shot taken on August 29, 2005.
N528US northwest airlines 757-200
A Northwest Airlines 757 in the final livery (N528US) rolling out in the early morning. Shot taken on November 19, 2006.

Northwest Airlines wasn’t considered world-class by any means, but I’ve had the pleasure to fly over 176,000 miles with them all over the world without incident. Just for kicks, here’s a map showing where Northwest Airlines has taken me over the years:

northwest airlines travel map
Map showing all the places that Northwest Airlines has taken me.

My most memorable experience with this airline was the cancellation of a connecting fight to BKK in early 2005 shortly after arriving into NRT, forcing me to cancel the trip all together since it was a 1-day turn mileage run. I had no time for delays built into the schedule at all, so my only option was to turn around and fly back to LAX.

The gate agents thought I was nuts, but they worked hard to get me the best possible seat for the return even though most flights were full. They could have easily dumped me in a middle seat on a flight several days out, but the trip ended up being quite memorable due to the kindness of the NW ground staff at NRT.

Hope you enjoy these pics. I sure as heck miss this airline!

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