One Politician is on a Quest to Change What You Call Dallas

There’s a famous story about Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York flying TWA to Newark and refusing to get off — because his ticket said New York. He insisted they fly the plane to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn where he then gave a press conference urging support for a commercial airport in New York.

American Airlines started commercial service to Brooklyn, and though the city government provided police escorts out to the airport to provide a competitive advantage it was still less convenient than Newark. However LaGuardia airport was born. And when the media embarrassed the mayor over his huge office there, the space was rented out to American to open the very first airport club.

So perhaps language usage can matter. Indeed I have one blog commenter who consistently complains when I refer to Dallas Fort-Worth airport as ‘Dallas’. He’s not the only one who doesn’t like it. Fort Worth (Update: former) city council member Joel Burns let loose a tweetstorm today bullying American Airlines over it noting that he plays a role in their tax breaks.

This elected official ‘reminded’ the American Airlines gate agent she ‘lacks respect’ by saying the flight is headed to Dallas, and calls her out on Twitter, while his twitter profile calls for “bullying’s end.” Which I guess is a little like the First Lady making that her signature cause.

The man is on something of a mission, too, here he was on Monday.

He has something of love-hate relationship with American for this man it seems because earlier in the week there was this:

The man is a linguistic prescriptivist. He wants to lay down rules defining correct usage. I’m more of a descriptivist. I care about how people use language and whether people understand what’s said. So I’ll keep referring to Dallas because it’s shorter to say, quicker to type, and people in general know where Dallas is — while people outside the Metroplex hear Fort Worth and shrug.

American Airlines Hanger at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport)

(HT: Joe R.)

Update: Though it appears to me otherwise from his Twitter profile Burns is not a current member of the Fort Worth city council.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. He should get together with a council member from St. Paul so they can commiserate. The guy really needs a hobby. I’d suggest travel hacking, but then he’d have to fly through the dreaded DFW airport more often.

  2. In hindsight, it can be argued that Ft. Worth should have kept Amon Carter Field/Greater Southwest International Airport It still had plenty of room to grow where Dallas Love Field is landlocked. To add insult to Ft. Worthian injury, DAL was **supposed** to close after DFW was opened but didn’t. Ft. Worth’s original airport, Meacham Field has had the occasional carrier to try to make a go of things in the last 50 years (in an effort to make Meacham for Ft. Worth similar to DAL for Dallas) but none lasted. Fun fact: when you leave DFW by car to the west, you briefly drive on part of an old Amon Carter runway.

  3. @ Gary — Where is your post encouraging your readers to boycott Starbucks? I certainly hope you are boycotting them.

  4. Wow, someone has way too much time on his hands. If I were a constituent, it sure wouldn’t encourage me to vote for the guy next time if this is how he expends his energy.

    I’m guessing agents say “Dallas” because it’s faster and everyone knows what is meant in the context of the situation. Though I’m sure I have heard AA employees sometimes say “Dallas-Ft Worth”.

    The city of Vandalia, OH doesn’t throw a hissy fit over referencing DAY as “Dayton”. Or Arlington, VA for DCA…or on and on.

    I remember when my daughter was little and we connected via IAD for the first time and she wanted to know if we would be able to see the Capitol, etc. She thought the airport should be named for where it really is. So that councilman has a similar thought process to an 8 year old FWIW! (Now 21, my daughter no longer is concerned about such things, lol)

  5. Do agents with flights to EWR (Newark) say the flights are to New York? Personally I would appreciate knowing that my flight was going to DFW and not DAL. It may be seen as picky, but woe to the traveler who thinks s/he is going to Love Field and ends up at DFW Airport, especially if they have a tight schedule and a meeting in downtown Dallas.

  6. Here’s another one: YVR or Vancouver International Airport is actually in Richmond BC and not in Vancouver. No one here seems too concerned.

  7. Seems like Mr Burns missed a couple doses of his Prozac. The agents defense of her shortened announcement doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. I flew today And the flight information displays as well as the gate monitors all said Dallas/Fort Worth. Burns probably should stop and realize that those tax breaks that he is berating, are the very thing that got Americans multi million dollar headquarters campus expansion to be built on Fort Worth soil.

  8. LOL love the reference to bullying especially when it applies to the First Escort’s obvous jab at the Orange Ogre. I wonder how vocal the Trumpanzees are now that it’s clear the former head of British Intelligence’s Russia bureau’s report that Russia had recorded Flabbo watching his prostitutes pee on each other was not false and no longer ignored by the media. This is what you’ve brought us to, redneck baboons! And you’re about to be wiped out in a tsunami by decent modern people for whom Fox and Friends is not a government but a parody sketch on SNL.

  9. Can’t imagine my 84yo mother, making a reservation, being lectured that Dallas isn’t a “thing”.

    PC run amok.

  10. The gate agent was the bully here, not Joel Burns.

    He is 100% correct. American gets significant tax breaks from Fort Worth, which has about 800,000 people (!) and is more than 30 miles from Dallas (downtown to downtown). They’re almost as far apart as DC and Baltimore, and Fort Worth has its own suburbs and identity.

    No, it isn’t like Vandalia, Ohio, Arlington, VA, or Richmond, BC. Those are suburbs and Fort Worth is not. Also, the airport isn’t in Fort Worth (except for a tiny sliver, but that’s a different subject). But that isn’t what it’s about.

    And yes, I think Councilman Burns’s constituents generally like to see him standing up for Fort Worth. If everyone sees Fort Worth as a suburb or doesn’t think about it, guess what, that hurts FW’s economy. Having gate agents say “Dallas-Fort Worth” is the least FW should be able to expect of American with all the incentives, and Fort Worth should at the very, very least expect American won’t ban its gate agents from saying it!

    Just one more reason to not fly American.

    Yes I know Gary will continue with “Dallas.” But most people have at least

  11. Continued from my previous comment:

    Most people have at least heard of Fort Worth, despite the antics of those like Stephanie and your assertion to the contrary.

  12. People of Fort Worth do seem very sensitive about this issue oddly. I live in the Kansas City metro area on the Kansas side and laugh when FA’s and gat agents announce that our flight is going to Kansas.
    I didn’t think Joel was still on the city council. I also thought I saw something where he or his husband complained about the DFW “Dallas” issue to the weather channel a while back. Maybe it’s some form of bullying?

  13. Burns is being ridiculous and contributing to Fort Worth’s already significant branding issue. That said, Fort Worth is a much larger city than Seattle or Boston, is growing faster than Dallas, and unlike Dallas, has room to grow geographically. If I lived in Dallas (I live in Grapevine) I’d promote the Dallas/Fort Worth brand out of fear that if it doesn’t catch on, in two or three generations it might be just plain Ft. Worth.

  14. Since the airport is neither in Dallas or Ft. Worth, I think it should be the Grapevine/Irving/Coppell/Euless Airport, GICE for short.

  15. I fly to Grapevine for work pretty often and my hotel is always a hell of a lot closer to the airport than Dallas or Fort Worth. I’m all for renaming it Grapevine International… DFW-> GRA perhaps?

  16. “Which I guess is a little like the First Lady making that her signature cause.”

    Another attack on Melania Trump? What’s next, Gary? Will you be calling for her 11 year old son to be put in a cage with pedophiles? And her 4 year old grand daughter as well?

    “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles” Peter Fonda

    “Don’t worry; we’re coming for Chloe, too.” Pat Dussault, Canadian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *