He begins to make his case with a story about how tough it was for his son to get from Tucson to India.
Starting his trip at the Tucson airport would have meant leaving home at 9:30 a.m. for a connection on US Airways to Phoenix, to board a 9:15 p.m. nonstop to London on British Airways (connecting to Delhi). Instead, by driving the two hours from Tucson to the far bigger Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, he was able to leave home at 4:30 p.m.
Sharkey posits that his son saved 7 hours by driving to Phoenix rather than flying out of Tucson.
My reactions to this.
- If it were actually true, that would be a pretty good argument that we don’t need smaller airports!
- 5 days a week the BA flight leaves at 7:40pm. A 9:15pm departure means his son left on Saturday.
- There’s a 6:10pm flight on Saturdays that arrives Phoenix at 7:00pm. that would have given him a 2 hour 15 minute connection. Why would he have had to leave home at 9:30am? That makes no sense.
- If the 6:10pm flight from Tucson was sold out, he could have gotten on the 5. Or the 3:20pm.
- But if the argument is “given the need for minimum connecting time, and that I have to drive to the Tucson airport anyway, I might as well fly out of Phoenix” then that’s plausible. But it’s not an argument for frequent air service out of Tucson. Quite the contrary.
Fact checking matters. Facts matter. The rest of the narrative depends on it.
He then explains that his son flew on an American Airlines ticket, even though he was traveling on British Airways. He explains global alliances and lists several alliance members. From which he concludes,
In short, while you still can get there from here, it’s becoming more complicated if you live in a midsize or smaller city, and even in some bigger cities that have fallen off airline hub networks.
Although I’m not sure how that’s more complicated at all, back before airline alliances there were interline agreements and a single airline could sell you a ticket involving travel on other carriers. Departing Tucson on US Airways, as he posits his son would have done, would never have gotten the son to India on US Airways no matter how hard Joe Sharkey closed his eyes and clicked his heels.
Now, if the point is that airlines are trying to run themselves as businesses and don’t want to offer money-losing service that would be a fair proposition. I think Joe gets here. He recognizes that offering subsidies to incentivize air service that the airlines won’t do on their own because they’re money losers usually doesn’t work out.
But I don’t feel sorry for Joe’s son. Unless, of course, he had to fly to India in coach.