We Find Most Lawmakers Fly Delta, Not Carriers They Brought In To Compete

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(Memphis) It’s been like a bad break-up for the past few years, elected leaders telling us the city's largest airline is no longer in our best interest.

“We should not peg our future on Delta”, said Mayor A C Wharton in 2012.

We’ve been told the secret to affordable airfare lies with the bright , shiny, new girl in town.

“It's very important that all of us when we can, try to fly on Southwest Airlines,” said former airport director Larry Cox, last year.

WREG dug through travel documents for the executives at Memphis International Airport and found their airline of choice is in fact, Delta.

Out of dozens and dozens of flights, they only flew Southwest twice, and one of those trips was when the airline first came to town.

They’ve only flown American once, all the rest of their dozens of flights were on an airline they are supposed to be working to build competition for.

“Most of us don't plan our own trips, but I think you make a valid point,” said Airport Authority Chairman Jack Sammons.

Sammons told us in his own company they fly all the airlines and encourage the use of Southwest.

He admits the airport needs to look at that also.

It's more than airport leaders, Memphis based Congressman Steve Cohen commutes from Memphis to Washington D.C. and his office told us he almost always flies Delta.

In an interview with WREG, he cited Delta’s schedule and in-flight Wi-Fi so he can stay connected and also what he called Delta's larger 'adult sized planes.'

Publicly, for years,  he said Delta holds us hostage, runs a monopoly, and he wanted them investigated, yet he spends money with them regularly.

What gives?

Why are all the business leaders flying the airline many of them tell us we should avoid?

“They're very loyal, they like getting on the plane first, they like their perks, their miles,” said Tricia Peacock, a Memphis travel agent.

Receipts from the airport executives show some are platinum members on Delta, meaning they often get upgrades flying first class and business class for no charge.

“What we talk about is great, but lets practice it,” said Peacock.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton flew Delta almost 90-percent of the time he boarded a plane.

“It’s convenient. Most of the time I try to go up and back in one day,” said Wharton.

He said Delta is on-time more and he has a tight schedule.

He also said WREG’s investigation is spot on.

“The premise of your story is correct. We fought so hard to get Southwest. We need to do all we can to support it,” said Wharton. “I will do a better job at that.”

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell flew Delta half the time he traveled.

The rest was split between United and US Airways .

The tallest man of the bunch squeezes into US Airways' planes, which were too small for Congressman Cohen.

“I already decided long ago, I'm going to be cramped on any airplane I fly,” said Luttrell.

He even had a model plane of a US Airways jet, given to him when the airline added service to bring competition with Delta.

He said it is the right thing to do and he can't believe everyone else isn’t doing it,

“It surprises me,” said Luttrell.

“I do think we need to try to show some loyalty to these airlines who are taking a risk on us. We need to take a risk on them.”

It is important to point out Delta does offer the most service to Memphis, and in many cases, it has the most convenient schedules.

This isn’t about beating up on one airline, but considering the analysts who say supporting everyone is the secret to lower fares at Memphis International.



  • whoyoukiddin

    Southwest has no flight times nor do they go to enough cities out of Memphis. The next thing is they are just as expensive as Delta. I have only found a few flights with Southwest that would work with a schedule and money.

  • MikeBarret

    Give me a break. Contracts, that’s how it works. Willing to bet some $$$ the City entered into a contract with Delta for a lower rate for city employee flights long before Southwest was even in negotiations to come here. Delta slobs my wrinkled nurticle carriage but a contract is a contract. Southwest will win over in the long run.

  • Ric

    Any truth to the rumor that Memphis is about to totally become a RJ market for Delta real soon ? In other words, mainline Delta (big jets) will be gone and all flights operated by Endeavor, their painted pig.

    Sounds like this issue may just “fix” itself…….

  • Jack

    The reasons are simple…They want their Delta Skymiles and the perks that those miles and status afford them. Pure and simple.

  • Willie

    It is do as I say not as I do – I have difficulties believing some of our
    politicians. Thanks Channel 3 It is out in the open. Airport Authority and
    politician are in bed with Delta. Don’t believe the hype about lower
    air fare for the locals.

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