Northwest Airlines - 1952

Having started at the age of 5, in over forty years I’ve managed to assemble one of the larger airline timetable collections in the enthusiast community, with many thousands of issues from all over the world, and going back to the 1920s, carefully logged and stored in my basement.

I recently picked up a copy of the Northwest Airlines July 3, 1952 schedule and decided to share it with you, as it's fascinating to see how far we've come in Transpacific travel.

 The timetable's centerfold map - featuring their flagship Boeing 377 Stratocruiser "Orient Express"

The timetable's centerfold map - featuring their flagship Boeing 377 Stratocruiser "Orient Express"

Northwest had built from scratch the northern airway into Canada and Alaska during WWII (via Edmonton and the Yukon) at a great price in lives, money, and aircraft, but they proved that despite the challenging terrain and weather, a feasible "shortcut" to Asia vs. the island-hopping Pacific route that Pan Am had developed was indeed practical. After the war, Northwest was given the rights to fly their route into Asia, as well as lucrative 'fifth-freedom' rights among the various countries there.

In 1952, Northwest was finally able to put their flagship double-decker Stratocruiser on their long-haul Seattle-Tokyo nonstop, and in this schedule they ran it twice a week. There was also a weekly DC-4 run from Minneapolis - Edmonton - Anchorage - Tokyo.

 NWA's actual routes served, based on this timetable - my analysis and rendering

NWA's actual routes served, based on this timetable - my analysis and rendering

Beyond Tokyo, Northwest had rights given by the U.S. government to fly to Shanghai ... but that service was not to be, as the Communists had secured the city and were not in a mood to invite an American business onto the mainland.  NWA also had rights to fly into Seoul, Korea ... but with that war going on, service went instead to Pusan (today's Busan) twice a week.

The Tokyo-Okinawa sector had five flights per week, three going onward to Taipei and two to Manila.  NWA did not have authorization for Hong Kong at that time, but all the Taipei services coordinated with Hong Kong Airways (on DC-3’s no less) for the final hop.

I've included the fare listing along with the schedules here - roundtrip New York - Tokyo was $1,425 ... that's in 1952 dollars ... compared to roundtrips in the $600s in mid-2015 (even the usual $1000 roundtrips are a bargain compared to the prices then!)

Below are .jpgs of each of the pages from the timetable, with the centerfold map above. Enjoy!