Delta flew a total of 70 L-1011s, up to 56 at one time. This was the largest L-1011 fleet in the industry.
In 1973, Delta was the first airline to simultaneously operate three of the first generation wide-bodied aircraft types — the Boeing 747, DC-10, and L-1011 — using the trademark "Wide-Ride" fleet in its ads.
Delta was the only major airline to operate all four variants of the L-1011: the L1011-1, the L-1011-200, the L-1011-250 and the L-1011-500.
Ship 702 flew Delta's first revenue L-1011 flight on December 15, 1973, with 39 passengers from Atlanta to Philadelphia.
Cities with early Delta L-1011 service were Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, Miami, Tampa, Houston and Philadelphia, with plans to extend service to Chicago and Detroit in early 1974.
Passengers on the TriStars in the early 1970s filled 250 seats (including 50 in first class). Flight attendants provide meals from a lower-deck galley. Crew numbered three pilots and ten flight attendants.
Interior cabin was described as "high, wide and handsome" in 1973. L-1011s brought new dimension in comfort with extra space throughout the airplane. Three double-width entry doors on each side of the fuselage and wider aisles allowed easier, faster boarding and deplaning.
In-flight entertainment in 1973, offered 7 "mood-matching" channels of Deltasonic stereo "Words & Music" programs. Delta's first movies were shown on its trans-Atlantic L-1011s in 1978.
The Lockheed 1011 offered fuel efficiencies in the midst of the U.S. Fuel Crisis:
"The TriStar will be of tremendous assistance in the current energy crisis since it is replacing older and less economical four engine equipment. The TriStar, at average cruise speeds, actually consumes less fuel than several of the older jets…Their 250 seat passenger carrying capability will also be of great assistance in the face of curtailed schedules due to the fuel shortage." Delta Senior Vice President-Marketing Joseph A. Cooper, 1973
First U.S. commercial jetliner able to land with a zero (no visibility) ceiling and with a 700 foot RVR (runway visual range)--meant fewer diversions from inclement weather.
The "New Advanced Automated Navigation System" featured a TV screen that operated like a moving map which navigated the airplane between cities. It connected to the Auto Pilot and Automatic Landing System, giving truly automatic flight.
Model -500 Ordered
Immediately after the Civil Aeronautics Board awarded Delta its Atlanta-London (Gatwick) route, Delta ordered three L-1011-500s, in January 1978.
Delta was the first domestic airline to order L-1011-500s.
The Model -500 was a long-range version of the basic L-1011. It held 241 seats, several seat rows smaller then the original 1001 because payload had to be traded off for the extra fuel required.
Model -200 Flies Trans-Atlantic
Eager to begin service to London, Delta leased two L-1011-200s from TWA and inaugurated its Atlanta-London route on April 30, 1978.
Model -500 Flies Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Routes
Delta was the first U.S. airline to fly the L-1011-500 on June 17, 1979, when it inaugurated service to Frankfurt, Germany from Atlanta.
"Your Delta Wide-Ride jet is the new Dash 500 model of the L-1011 TriStar, the first of its kind in transatlantic service. This long-range TriStar gives you a quieter, smoother flight. And the comfort of 'living room' cabins 8 feet high and 19 feet wide." Brochure promoting Delta's new service to Germany:
With its L-1011-500 fleet, Delta expanded trans-Atlantic service through the 1980s:
Delta began service to Honolulu with an L-1011-500 on December 14, 1984, and the L-1011 became the backbone of Honolulu service from Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta.
Delta flew its first trans-Pacific service on March 2, 1987, with the L-1011-500: Atlanta—Portland, Oregon—Tokyo.
Other notable Asian inaugurals flown by Delta L-1011s include:
Delta's last transoceanic L-1011 flight was on November 30, 1998, from Vienna to Atlanta.
Tristar 1 N728DA flew Delta's final L-1011 service on July 31, 2001. It was a roundtrip from Atlanta to Orlando, FL, and back to Atlanta.
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