(Memphis) After years of complaining of high airfares out of Memphis International Airport, some consumers are using social media to do something about it.
Tom Jones, president of Smart City Consulting, started a Facebook group called “Delta Does Memphis” last week.
Jones’ consulting group often focuses on issues related to cities’ competitiveness. When it comes to airfare, Memphis loses that game.
Constantly ranked in the top five most expensive airports, Memphis International is a hub for Delta Airlines.
Jones’ Facebook group has gotten about 400 members in just a few days.
“At this point it’s more about venting and hopefully in the future, like a lot of social media, it’ll be more about mobilizing,” Jones said.
Members have been sharing their horror stories of how much it cost to fly out of Memphis compared to nearby airports in Little Rock or Nashville.
“We ought to give everyone an opportunity to have a voice, and send a message to Delta,” Jones said.
Delta has seen the page.
A Delta spokesman wrote to News Channel 3:
“Airline fares are affected by many factors, including the cost of providing the service, the price of jet fuel, the date and time of purchase, the route traveled, and time, date and season of the flight and the fare class. We offer a wide range of fares in Memphis for both our business and leisure customers. I’d also note that government fare figures are averages from a 10 percent sample of fare data, and don’t always reflect the best available fare on any given route.”
He also said that Memphis enjoys more nonstop service than most cities its size, thanks to Delta’s hub.
Barbara Blue likes that advantage, since she often flies direct.
“I’m doing ok with them. I’m not against Delta yet. I’m still pro-Delta,” Blue said.
But fellow traveler Chris Little has stopped flying out of Memphis International altogether, because of the high airfare.
“Prices are just outrageous. For what we’re getting here in Memphis, we should have more competition so we don’t have to go to Little Rock or Nashville. I mean, it’s cheaper to drive 200 miles than come down here,” Little said.
Little hasn’t flown out of Memphis in several years, and he said he’d be very interested in checking out Jones’s Facebook group.
Many of the group members are prominent city leaders, some of whom don’t know that they’ve been added.
Councilman Harold Collins removed himself from the group since he didn’t join on his own, but is very interested in what the members have to say.
“I will probably monitor the group, just to make sure that if my name is attached to it, that they’re doing things positively,” Collins said.
Collins said when Southwest Airlines comes to town, he encourages everyone to use Southwest to spur competition.
He’s especially concerned as Graceland prepares for the 35th anniversary of Elvis’s death.
“A lot of tourists are going to be coming to town, and we don’t want them to choose between flying into Memphis or not flying into Memphis because of the high airfares.”
Councilman Myron Lowery is a member of the Facebook group, and he said he’ll stay with them. He also encourages others to join.
Lowery told News Channel 3 the group is doing a great public service and that it will hopefully bring change.
Mayor Wharton and other city leaders have recently asked the Memphis Airport Authority to pursue other carriers.