This past summer, I had the privilege of taking a private tour of the Delta Air Lines museum right on the property of ATL airport with my friend and fellow-blogger Rene from DeltaPoints. He was gracious enough to organize the tour, and get a group of aviation enthusiasts to attend, which was really generous.
I was really impressed by the museum, and if you’re an aviation geek in the least bit, this is a must-stop place when in Atlanta. If you’re an American Airlines geek, I highly suggest visiting their museum in Dallas, too.
As you enter the property, you pass through a security checkpoint where you are given a badge to wear on the property. Free souvenir?!
The museum itself is in a former airplane hanger, right next to the corporate headquarters of the Atlanta-based airline. In fact, it’s been reported that Richard Anderson and his executive team often hold meeting or other functions at the museum. There’s plenty of parking, so find a space and head on in to the museum entrance.
Once inside, you can purchase your ticket from the cashier to head into the museum, or go to the gift shop, which is a great place to drop a few bucks if you’re a fan of Delta. I won’t tell you how much I spent there…and I don’t even fly Delta regularly anymore…
The museum starts with a tour of several older mail planes, as well as some exhibits on how flying used to be – complete with full meal service experiences, high-end china, and other pleasantries. If you’re on a group tour, you’ll get an inside look at this humongous area. There’s plenty of opportunities to take pictures.
Our tour guide for today was a former Delta flight attendant, which made the experience even more special. Along the way, he explained the history of the company and the significance of the building we were standing in.
As the tour progressed, and we made our way though the museum, I was awe-struck by the large, now-retired 767 sitting in an area perfect for a large group gathering and event. This is the Spirit of Delta, and she’s enormous as you stand next to her.
From the museum’s website:
In Spring 1982, the airline industry was troubled by a weak economy, high fuel prices and deregulation. After 35 consecutively profitable years, Delta posted a net loss. As a way of expressing their appreciation for company support during this trying time, Delta employees spearheaded “Project 767” to raise money to pay for Delta’s first Boeing 767. Led by three flight attendants, the project was an inspiring effort to raise $30 million through the combined donations of employees, retirees and friends.
On December 15, 1982, over 7,000 employees, friends and the international media gathered at Delta’s Technical Operations Center, to present the airline with its first Boeing 767, Ship 102, christened “The Spirit of Delta.” Directly after the dedication ceremony, Spirit left Atlanta on its inaugural service flight to Tampa, Florida.
Surrounding this massive giant are baggage carts filled with displays on the modern day company, including a few panels on the SkyTeam alliance.
You’ll also find – which is especially interesting to the miles and points enthusiast – a small display comparing the modern day BusinessElite (now DeltaOne) with the older version of their First Class seat from the 60s and 70s. Boy, what a change!
You can also compare the flight attendant uniforms of today with those of yester-year.
As you finish up your tour, as we did, there’s some terrific plane spotting opportunities outside, and the museum is close enough to the airport where you can catch your flight in a matter of minutes. It’s also convenient to the rental car facility, and several nearby hotels.
The museum does not have transportation to and from the airport, so you’ll have to find your own way there – perhaps an Uber would work best for a day visit, or renting a car for an extended trip.
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