It's Personal

January 31st, 2013

After balanced reporting, in consideration of facts absent emotion, following level-headed analysis, weighing the published words of our civic leaders and the expert commentary of those deemed to be experts, and in the wake of events, there is but one reasonable response left to each of us.

We’re pissed.

We didn’t and don’t deserve what one company did and is doing to us, ripping us off every day at our airport and ripping a headquarters and 11 floors out of our heart downtown. But if we don’t act quickly, forcefully and creatively to repair the damage and to make sure we can never be played like that again, we will deserve what we get.

We can start by getting everyone who caused the problem away from  the solution.

As published in The Daily News, February 1, 2013, and in The Memphis News, February 2-8, 2013

Delta Down


This is our town, and you’re not welcome here.

So pack a plane with all your meaningless spin, all your lackeys and suck-ups, all your apologists, all your legal but unethical tactics, all your eye popping price gouging, all your cold and calculated manipulation of lives, your own employees’ lives, and a city’s pride and get the hell out. There’s so much of all of that in the massive fuel dump you just dropped on Memphis that I’m sure it’ll take more than one plane to haul it all off and we may never be rid of the stench it’s leaving behind.

And if airport management, the airport authority and the chamber of commerce can’t convince every single one of us that not even one more single in-flight peanut will be offered to you, that there is less than zero interest in any future that involves you, and that every assumption about passenger service here is no longer valid, then you should take them with you. After all, the chairman of the airport authority just mysteriously gave up his apparent lifetime appointment, the CEO of the chamber is a former airline executive and one of the family, and the current chairman of the chamber is the current head of the airport. With a flight pattern that tight, there’s going to be a wreck.

Delta, you’re fired. This flight is cancelled. And it’s not business, it’s personal.

It was business when you systematically raised the price of flying in Memphis so high our wallets had to be pressurized and Arkansas had to hire additional troopers to handle the traffic headed for Little Rock’s airport. And the people in charge of our airport watched, and streets were named after them.

It was business when you systematically reduced our airport to a virtual dead zone, a perfect location for the next movie of what civilization looks like after the people have gone. And the people in charge of our airport watched, and busied themselves with hiding one of our architectural masterpieces behind a massive parking tomb where no one parks, a place as empty as your promises.

It was business when you circled a dying Pinnacle like vultures, demanding new planes, squeezing heart-breaking concessions from everyone, money-whipping them into a subsidiary, and then jerking them up and planting them in Minnesota where you already had an empty nest waiting. And the people in charge of our airport and our chamber unveiled a massive plan for America’s Aerotropolis, exhibiting a Hindenburg-like sense of aviation timing.

So, Delta, take off. And don’t let the gate hit you.

As for us, let’s put Jack Sammons (the new chair of the airport authority and the newest member of that body without all the carry-on baggage the rest have) and Fred Smith, and whoever they want in a room at the airport ­(there are plenty available) with a few sheets of notebook paper.

When they come out, get behind the plan.

I’m a Memphian, and let’s fly again.


Sarah Terry: Amen! My husband and I just gave up and booked flights out of Little Rock on Southwest. I we had to pay Delta's prices, there would have been no trip at all. I think Memphis would have plenty of passengers if the prices were more reasonable.

John H.: Being mad at Delta for putting profits first is like being mad at a compass for pointing north. It's the nature of the beast. We're certainly not the only mid-sized airport or second-tier city airport to suffer drastic cuts to service and capacity. And I doubt Delta cares one whit about us when they have a global operation to run. We're not ENTITLED to great service and lower fares. We just had them for so long that we became accustomed to them. It's not personal. It's just business. That said, we need to stay on top of our airport commission members. Are they they best for that job? Are they attacking this problem with everything they've got? Are any of the appointees putting this task FIRST, ahead of all other business priorities elsewhere? This should be a full-time job until the job is done. If they can't devote every minute of their working days to it, there are plenty of currently-unemployed folks with plenty of business experience who would be happy to step in. I never blamed or got mad at Delta for what they did. It's just business. I want an airport commission that fights the good fight as if their jobs and livelihoods were on the line. Is that the case in Memphis? If we fight with all we got and still lose, at least there's some nobility in that. How much of a fighting instinct is in each and every one of our airport authority members? That is the only question that matters now. Win or die trying, or else give up your spot to someone who will.

eric wilson: Hell yeah. And your uniforms are ugly too.

Joe Boone: Great work. Time for some creative destruction!

Jim Beaty: Dan, This is merely a rerun of events that took place in the 1950's, only then the company was Chicago Southern Airline. They left Memphis because of lack of Memphis political leaders willing to make concessions for their operations locally. They picked up, moved to Atlanta, a less attractive aerodrome then, and grew up to be Delta Airlines. Seems like history repeats itself. Hopefully Southwest will pick up the slack. I suppose that the real problem is, we just don't have the boarding numbers in Memphis.

Gary Bridgman: PREACH IT, Brother Dan!

Bobbi Gillis: Wow Dan, tell us how you really feel. I too share your frustration and hope that Jack can work his magic and find a solution to this untenable situation. A viable airport is critical to the future of our city and something must be done- ASAP. Always enjoy your column.

Laurel Reisman: You nailed it, Dan. Sadly, every truth in your rant was probably man made by local egotists sucked in by perceived glory in hobnobbing with Delta's big boys. Yes, Jack, Fred and you, old friend, can get this plane off the ground, so just tell the rest of us proud Memphians how to get onboard.

Michael Guthrie: I couldn't agree more.

Tom: I'm a Memphian too, and a Delta frequent flyer. And I'll continue to be both. You just articulated several dismal failures on the part of our local airport governance and then got mad at Delta for acting like a business. They ARE a business. It's not Delta's job to make sure Memphians are tucked into bed at night all warm and cozy. It's Delta's job to maximize their profits in a competitive environment. Meanwhile, our supposed caretakers at the airport have done little to keep all the airlines (even ones not named Delta) from walking all over us. That said, I welcome the day when we're no longer a Delta hub and I'm flying through Atlanta to get anywhere. It will be a return to the good old days when Delta was fairly cheap and Northwest was the price-gouger. But in general, I'll say this. If more people held grudges like you do, consumers would be much more able to decide their own fates. If the airline industry has shown us anything, it's that people will complain about everything from baggage fees to customer service to leg room... and then will choose the cheapest option no matter what, even if two months earlier they swore never to fly that airline again. We have met the enemy... and he is us.

Ashley Le Blanc: What a great commentary. I could not agree more...and what about canceling all direct flights to just about anywhere!! Those wonderful hour long flights to the beach are long gone. Could not agree more!

Kini Plumlee: Awesome Dan! Tell it like it is! Thanks for putting all of our thoughts into the appropriate verbiage for those Delta scum bags!

Percy Galbreath: Well said, Dan!! On Target.

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