Goodbye To Another Great Airline

A Northwest Airlines plane takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis Monday April 14, 2008. Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp., squeezed by record high fuel prices and a slowing economy, are combining in a stock-swap deal that would create the world's biggest carrier. The boards of both companies gave the deal the go-ahead Monday.(AP Photo/Andy King)
AP Photo/Andy King
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
TWA. Eastern Airlines. Pan Am.

When I first started flying some decades ago, those were some of the most important names in the business. We'd fly TWA to Europe from its magnificent terminal at JFK. Pan Am went to more exotic places, and Eastern ran the shuttle and went down to South America.

Flying, as us old timers always say, was different then. Service was better, people were nicer, and there was a degree of professionalism and pride.

Soon Northwest will be added to the list of airline names you don't hear anymore. If the Northwest-Delta merger goes through, the new mega airline will be called Delta.

I can still remember the Northwest radio jingle: Northwest…orient airlines.

Northwest was a pioneer carrier to Alaska and onto Japan and China, led there because it funded the Lindbergh's great circle trip to Japan in 1931.

We wax nostalgic because once upon a time, those airlines were great. And what they've been replaced with…not so.
By Harry Smith