This Doesn’t Fly

May 24th, 2012

They built the Texas-size flying cluster somewhere between Dallas and Fort Worth, and everything went through there.

You had to fly through there to get back to your car.

Then they built the monster bunker in Atlanta, and everything went through there.

You had to fly through there to get to the bathroom.

Now we have our very own hub, and Delta is going through our pockets and taking everything.

And we're letting them, and taking off from Little Rock and Nashville.

As published in The Daily News, May 25, 2012, and in The Memphis News, May 26-June 1, 2012




Tom Jones has suggested that Delta is doing to us what hard-core protagonist Debbie did to Dallas. This time around, Delta is the only one deriving any pleasure out of the act and charging us two, three, even four times the going rate for the experience.

Tom is a communications professional. He knows how things take off and what fuels them. That’s why the Facebook page he launched last week – “Delta Does Memphis” – is getting more action than half the gates at Memphis International.

Since the beginning of time, when people get screwed they want to talk about it.

It’s more than the money; it’s what the money is costing us as a city – business, tourists, conventions, credibility – and what the gouging is costing us in civic pride. People are not only willing to ride a bus across eastern Arkansas or west Tennessee to give their business to Little Rock, Nashville and any other airline, they’re happily boarding that bus and happily recommending the trip. We haven’t had this much public discussion about driving times to those cities and the likes of Birmingham, Lexington and Debbie’s own Dallas since Eisenhower came up with the interstate system.

It’s more than Delta, it’s the growing concern that we may be pimping ourselves out to the power of their engines – lacking the will, imagination, even the independence to take them on, attract competition, and bring the price of flying down. The recently announced incentives of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority might be a baby step but this baby’s not going anywhere fast enough. First, they think they can satiate the profit hunger of airlines with a million dollars – the equivalent of a bag of peanuts on a flight to Australia. Second, they’re offering it to Delta –paying our money to Delta to take more of it.

We don’t need any more of the kind of thinking that took Roy Harrover’s inspiring champagne glass masterpiece and hid it behind a massive cliff of parking garage. We don’t need the kind of vision that would see us as America’s Aerotropolis while failing to see our own citizens getting on the aforementioned bus. We don’t need navigators who proudly point to a brand-new control tower while the cost of flying soars out of control and the number of passenger flights is in a crash dive.

It’s time for a new flight and a new crew with new ideas.

My father was a mechanical engineer who landed the HVAC contract for the new airport when it opened in 1963, the dad who took a wide-eyed son to the construction site to watch Harrover’s wonder rise, the first building to show me our spirits can fly, and the view the airport authority took away from my granddaughter and yours.

It’s not their airport. It’s Roy’s and Dad’s, yours and mine. Not Delta’s, but ours, and we want a better deal for our city.

I’m a Memphian, and what’s going on at our airport just doesn’t fly.


Sara O'Ryan: The airport is beautiful, and now we can't see it, but what can we do? They aren't going to tear down the monstrosities. Riverside drive has also been blighted by a parking lot and a boat landing that looks like a subway entrance. Those would be easier to tear down, thank goodness, but why did they cost so much?

guy miller: Screw the million dollars...we should have our best salesman (Fred Smith or Pitt Hyde or Mike Rose) camping out at the CEO of Southwest and finding out what it will take to get them to fly out of Memphis!

mike edmundson: Dan, as usual, you have spoken for me and most of Memphis, I just wish more people would join in this endeavor that Mr. Jones is undertaking and that we could travel in and out of Memphis with a smile on our faces.

Stephanie Harrover: Dan, thank you for a very thoughtful and much needed Rant about covering up our beautiful airport with an ugly concrete box of a garage. Maybe it's time to get a more enlightened airport authority, if this is the kind of decisions they are making now. Keep up your good work - Memphis needs a few good rants to wake it up!

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