How to Merge Two Airlines

Click image to enlarge.

What you’re looking at above is the master guide at the headquarters of Delta Airlines of all the systems that would need to be integrated between Delta and Northwest in their merger. It was devised by Delta’s chief information officer, Theresa Wise who also has a doctorate in applied mathematics.

They immediately began planning for what turned out to be an 18-month sprint to integrate 1,200 systems across the two airlines — everything from customer loyalty programs to aircraft operations, all without interrupting service. Managers built this master guide to break down when these systems would need to start working together. Each note represents a project that could involve thousands of tasks.

The accompanying article has some fascinating tidbits as well where no detail in the merger was too small that had to be resolved:

  • Delta pours soda into a cup. Northwest hands over the can.
  • Delta pilots used to ring the cabin bell four times on final approach. Northwest pilots rang it twice.
  • Delta cut its limes in 10 slices. Northwest cut them 16 ways.

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