Wright & Shelby Amendments

There are two airports in Dallas: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field.

Dallas Love Field was the original airport, and when the new International Airport opened in 1974, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, presumably in an attempt to see it succeed, tried to stop interstate flights (i.e. flights from Texas to some other state) from flying out of Love Field.

In 1979, however, the U.S. Congress passed the Wright Amendment. This allowed large aircraft to fly from Love Field to to locations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. This was expanded by the passage of the Shelby Amendment in 1997 which allowed flights to Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi as well.

This is relevant (and I use that word in its most limited sense) primarily because of how it affects Southwest Airlines, a major U.S. discount carrier. Southwest uses Love Field as their airport in Dallas and, as such, cannot fly from Dallas to anywhere outside of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Alabama.

If you look at Southwest’s route map you can see that Dallas, a large metropolis, is smack dab in the middle of a lot of the U.S. (see the photo of the U.S. from space on this page to see this very clearly). And thus not being able to use Dallas as a jumping off point to the rest of the U.S. is a logistical problem for the airline; it even warrants its own page on their website.

I experienced this restriction personally back in the early 1990s when I wanted to fly from El Paso to Detroit on Southwest. I was routed El Paso, Austin, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit. If you look at the map, El Paso to Dallas would have been the logical first step, the law notwithstanding.


I Garcia's picture
I Garcia on May 15, 2003 - 19:17 Permalink

Are there plans to overturn this? Sounds like politics once again.

P McKanna's picture
P McKanna on June 3, 2003 - 20:14 Permalink

This is a great example of why government should stay out of free enterprise. It is unfair to Southwest and an inconvenience to thousands of customers. The major airlines — American, Delta, United, etc — are getting their butts kicked by airlines like Southwest and Sky Blue who actually are concerned about customer satisfaction and providing an affordable, quality product. It is ridiculous how the “Major” airlines are run. They keep operating the same way — and keep losing money. They are getting better at lobbying congress for bailouts than providing customers with comfortable, flexible, and affordable flights. Many times my wife and I will decide to take a weekend trip at the last minute. Do you think we are going to pay $1000.00+ ticket prices at American or Delta? Don’t think so. So many of the Major Airlines’ policies are killing their business, I could write a book on them. American and Delta — quit letting accountants design the inside of airplanes. More seats is obviously not generating more revenue. Try affordability and flexibility. If you need a business model check out Southwest and Sky Blue…Otherwise, get ready to keep begging the government for more handouts.

Jack Collins's picture
Jack Collins on July 14, 2003 - 16:04 Permalink

I need to go to Ft. Worth for a business meeting. American will cost less than Southwest mainly because I have to fly to Tulsa and then transfer to another flight on to my destination.

I’m going to drive. I can make sales calls back to St. Louis

Diane's picture
Diane on July 27, 2003 - 15:45 Permalink

I just encountered this. I know that were it not for these awful laws, I’d be able to make my trip for probably about $150, on Southwest. As it is, I’d be paying over twice that, and it winds up being cheaper for me to use American. At first when I saw the page on Southwest’s website, I wondered if it might have been a saddlebag put on them to counteract that the company is doing better than any other airline. (Though I don’t know about Blue Sky.) Really, I have a feeling that that’s what it is, still, just on a different level. Southwest’s never played political ball, one of the reasons it’s one of the few companies I respect.

John's picture
John on August 24, 2003 - 22:50 Permalink

This has got to be the most rediculous thing I have ever heard of.

Curlyqzs's picture
Curlyqzs on August 28, 2003 - 21:42 Permalink

How do we go about having this amendment turned over? I do not see how this could be constitutional. What is this best avenue to lift these restrictions? Write your congressman? Please advise. It is up to the public to respond to this unfairness in free enterprise.

Matthew's picture
Matthew on September 7, 2003 - 02:15 Permalink

Your government at work. Is there logic in this that someone could explain?

COMALite J's picture
COMALite J on September 12, 2003 - 17:06 Permalink

According to the original article, the Wright and Shelby Amendments themselves were Federal law that attempted to reduce the restrictions imposed by the Cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth, by extending the range of DAL (Dallas Love Field). The original Cities law was imposed as corporate welfare to DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth International) to help it succeed against the &#147entrenched incumbent&#148 DAL, by making it illegal for DAL to offer any flights to anywhere outside of the State of Texas. Federal laws trump State and Local ones, but Federal legislators are loathe to interfere too much with State and Local laws that primarily impact State and Local business. So the Wright and Shelby Amendments extended that range to cover the South Central USA, but didn&#146t do away with the original local law.

It&#146s the original local law that&#146s bad. I think the best remedy would be at the State level, to have Austin (the capitol) pass a law overriding the DFW local law (and any similar laws that might exist), by enforcing free enterprise among all the airports and airlines that operate in the State of Texas, and thus making the Wright and Shelby Amendments obsolete.

DFW no longer needs the help (if it ever did). It’s now over a decade older than people who officially became (or will become) adults this year. To people who graduated college up to 10 years ago, DFW has always existed in their meaningful memories. It’s not the new kid on the block anymore.

Chad Sopata's picture
Chad Sopata on November 6, 2003 - 20:24 Permalink

Southwest even has Dallas listed as one of their hubs. Economically its a law that no longer acts as an incentive to support a new airport, but limits the growth of the another. I’m quite surprised Southwest hasn’t put the screws to the politicians with threats to leave.

The only reasonable explanation I can figure is the neighborhoods surrounding Love Field are against an increase in air traffic.

Brian's picture
Brian on January 6, 2004 - 22:39 Permalink

I would be visiting my friend in Arlington right now for $99 if Southwest could fly to Dallas. Instead, my last trip cost me $150 each way. This is so lame — southwest has it in its best interest to change this law.

Karen's picture
Karen on January 17, 2004 - 19:54 Permalink

What is the best way for the public to start a campaign to outlaw the Wight and Shelby Amendments? I for one, am tired of missing out on Southwest specials because I live in Dallas and always have to fly out of DFW. Since the other airlines are using Love Field and are not restricted why is Southwest still being penalized?

Steve's picture
Steve on February 1, 2004 - 05:18 Permalink

It is, once again, a case of the consumer losing out to the politics of special interest groups. We have to pay the fares of the big airlines, instead of being able to share in what Southwest Airlines is doing for the rest of the country. Dallas is SWA’s home and they can’t even make it a showcase of travel, as it should be—all because of politics. The amendments were put in place to insure that DFW would be a success. It has been. Let it stand on its own now, and give us a chance to use SWA if we choose!

Bud's picture
Bud on February 5, 2004 - 18:55 Permalink

There must be someone or something we can do…?

Can anyone recommend who I should contact, as my business is losing multiple-thousands of dollars per year because we “MUST” fly out of DFW.

I calculated the total loss due to this amendment/law for our company alone, and it is in the range of $3-5 million dollars, just for the last 10-years. If we were to include just North Dallas companies, it would be in the $20-30 million dollar range!

I thought we lived in a free-enterprise, capitalistic society — This amendment is a prime definition of socialism, right in our own backyards!

Bud B.
Frito Lay Corporate HQ

Phyllis Klym's picture
Phyllis Klym on February 12, 2004 - 00:32 Permalink

It is time to repeal the Wright and Shelby amendments, restricting travel out of Dallas Love Field. The USA is supposed to be a society of free enterprise…and it’s time we returned to our roots….getting government out of our business. DFW has nothing to lose….it has already made a name for itself. So….we have “outlived” the need for the original intent of the amendments. Now it’s politics…and aren’t we all sick of that??????

Stefan's picture
Stefan on March 31, 2004 - 14:07 Permalink

To Bud:

It’s notyhing to do with socialism. In socialism you have a centrally planned economy, so you would not have two competing airports in the same area in the first place.

from behind the Iron Curtain

Scott's picture
Scott on March 31, 2004 - 21:44 Permalink

Write or call Southwest Airline and tell them your displeasure with the Wright amendment. They are currently not fighting it due to “the current economic airline conditions and other business pursuits”. In other words, they don’t want to waste the little money they have fighting an up hill battle unless their customer’s really care about this.

Customer Relations
Southwest Airlines
Customer Relations
P.O. Box 36647 — 1CR
Dallas, Texas 75235-1647

Also, write to you congressmen or senator. There are several websites to find out who this person is in your area.

Michael's picture
Michael on April 16, 2004 - 17:59 Permalink

I had this experience while flying to San Antonio from the west coast. I had a one stop itinerary with a short layover for a connecting flight in El Paso. After deboarding in El Paso, I hurried to check the monitor for my gate number. I was very surprised to find that my deaprture gate was the same as my arrival gate! I was getting back on the same plane! No wonder tha layover was short!

The counter agent explained that the new flight continued to Dallas after stopping in San Antonio, and due to the Wright Amendment, they had to terminate the flight number (since it had not originated in an adjoining state) and assign a new flight number to the “continuation”. All passengers had to get off, and those (like me) who were going to San Antonio just got back on.

If my destination had happened to be Dallas, I would have had to claim any checked baggage and check in again with a second ticket. They can’t book a connection to Dallas either.

This is an absurd way to have to run an airline. DFW is not going to dry up and blow away. It would seem that the real intent of the Wright Amendment was to limit Southwest Airlines potential market so that it would eventually fail and Love Field could be closed.

It is fortunate that the same did not happen in Houston with Hobby and Intercontinental Airports. Think of the extra fuel that is used making Houston Hobby a “hub” for the connections that can’t be made via Dallas Love.

Southwest Airlines deserves a lot of credit for growing and succeding in spite of these restrictions. It is time to repeal the Wright Amendment.

John Dreese's picture
John Dreese on April 21, 2004 - 14:11 Permalink

Actually, the true story behind the Wright Amendment is a tale of backroom politics and incredible corporate greed. Since becoming a constant victim of the Wright Amendment, I’ve taken it upon myself to catalog as much information about it as possible including the lawsuits that it has generated.

The purpose of the Wright Amendment was to create a Federally sponsored monopoly benefitting one company and penalizing not just the millions of people in the DFW metroplex, but anybody flying through Texas.

To boot, it’s impossible to measure how many businesses choose not to come to DFW because of the extraordinary airline costs (business travel costs are an issue to many companies).

Remember this: Jim Wright was a terminally corrupt congressman from Fort Worth who tried to deny Southwest Airlines ANY access to other states from Dallas. The ONLY reason the Wright Amendment allows travel to adjoining states is because of the diligent lobbying by Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher (he literally flew to DC and visited many congressmans offices); the adjacent states clause was the best they could get before Wright ramrodded it through Congress.

As a thank you to Jim Wright, American Airlines moved their headquarters from New York to Fort Worth, Texas. When? Less than 12 months after he gave them a monopoly over the 5th largest airport on Earth.

It’s good to have powerful friends.

Email me if you want to help fight this unconstitutional fraudulent law.

PS. In some respects, continuing to rely on the falsely inflated profits brought about by the Wright Amendment, American Airlines is heading towards a bankruptcy cliff. You see, AirTran and others have recently found a way to sneak into DFW and undercut American. In fact, if American Airlines wants to survive, they need to get rid of the Wright Amendment to force them to compete AND remove the low-cost advantage of the AirTrans of the world.

Dax's picture
Dax on May 7, 2004 - 06:01 Permalink

I’m glad that somebody finally pointed out that our government wasn’t just making up laws for no reason, it was making up laws to help monopolistic conglomerates in the exact same market that so many are suggesting needs protection. The next time yet another ignorant citizen goes running around screaming about how unfair the government is to small business, I hope someone smacks them around and explains that in reality it’s BIG BUSINESS that’s unfair to small business. The government is just a tool used by the heavy hitters to get what they want. Southwest can only do so much. Even though they have become a significant force over the years, unlike the other majors they still seem intent on keeping their books in the black, instead of dumping all their profits on lobbying costs. The Wright amendment will not be repealed. It will be left on the books and serve as a reminder of just how bassackwards Texa$ still is. I write Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn several times each year. They always reply back with the same elietest attitude of “Thanks for your input, but the hands that feed us disagree with you and the hands are always right.” Dalla$ will remain the black eye in Southwest’s route map for as long as they remain an LCC. So it goes.

More Information's picture
More Information on May 7, 2004 - 06:22 Permalink



…to see a long list of American Airlines, Fort Worthless, and DFW fighting any-and-all progress in the form of new service from LCC airlines out of Love Field. If you’re going to complain, then complain about AA and their near total control over DFW. I can fly through DFW for much less than folks who originate in DFW itself. It’s called a monopoly, and it will continue to screw you until you get rid of it. How do you get rid of it? Avoid anti-competitive corporations like unAmerican Airlines whenever possible. The sooner they fall the sooner you can get other carriers into DFW.

*Disclaimer… even though AA has been in the red by a large margin for quite some time, they are still many, many years away from death. Business folks who have been sucked into their milage program are loath to consider other carriers, and they will continue to fly AA regardless of how much it costs them in order to keep the miles coming. This is a large part of AA’s revenue, and it will help keep them afloat for a long time to come.

Sherry in Seattle's picture
Sherry in Seattle on May 16, 2004 - 23:23 Permalink

To Bud—again, it’s acutually the opposite of socialism—if it were socialism, the money “somebody” is making off this law would be going to help some part of the public (even if it were the local people around Dallas). This is not what’s happening—it’s actually what’s some economists think will happen in pure free enterprise—the monopolistic control of an economy by powerful business. In this case, it seems pretty clear that the powerful business interests with the best ties to government have put this law in place—and kept it from being repealed(even if it is to the detriment of the general public, and many other businesses).
Now I know why when my husband and I have wanted to travel to Texas from Seattle we were forced to change airplanes in Texas, adding an extra layover and 45 minute flight to the trip. Even though there are direct flights to the closest big city, we aren’t allowed to make reservations to go directly from Seattle—if I try to go direct to Houston, and drive from there to the small city we’re going to, I have to stop in Dallas and then go to Houston; if I try to go direct to Dallas, I am forced to stop in Houston! If it’s not this particular protective law, it has to be another one instituted to make sure “somebody” makes money!

Jeanne in Nashville's picture
Jeanne in Nashville on June 11, 2004 - 03:26 Permalink

Just a tip. I wanted to get from Nashville to Dallas. The best price I could find was about $650, with terrible flight times and a long layover in Houston. I called Southwest. They booked me on two separate round trips, one from Nashville to Houston and the second from Houston to Dallas. The trip will cost $429 and I will actually have less travel time. The only inconvenience is I have to carry my suitcase and check in a second time at Houston. Well worth it. Southwest can book this for you, they just can’t book it as a single trip. I’d much rather Southwest have my money.

Doug in St. Louis's picture
Doug in St. Louis on June 14, 2004 - 20:01 Permalink

Want to break this up? Boycott American Airlines. TWA had a near monopoly here in St. Louis until American bought them in 2000. Then came 9/11 and a sour economy. Passenger levels were way down. In November 2003, American was hurting so badly that they cut their St. Louis flights from 410 to 217 — almost in half. Everyone thought it was the end of the world. But on the day American dropped those flights, Southwest increased theirs and Frontier jumped into the market. Prices at American had to fall even further. Necessity is the mother of new experiences: I recently flew Frontier for the first time and enjoyed a spanking new jet with DirecTV service at every seat — thank you American for introducing me to Frontier!

I hate flying to Dallas because of the Wright Amendment and the fact that American gouges all customers going to DFW. When I have to plan a business meeting, I always nix the suggestion that we go to Dallas, because it’s so much more expensive (hey, I love your town, but I would rather spend my $$ in your restaurants, not on the flight there).

My suggestion is that you get an organized effort (especially in election year) to get this taken care of once and for all. It really does make Dallas (and Texas) look like backwater country. Also talk to the convention planners in Dallas and to the event planners for national groups — they will tell you that this setup is really hurting your ability to draw people on a large scale to Dallas.

Reality Check in Dallas's picture
Reality Check i... on June 25, 2004 - 05:22 Permalink

Anyone ever think of the fact that the “Wrong” Amendment was the basis of Southwest’s success? I can almost hear your collective gasps. Do you realize that since this contentious amendment passed, Southwest has enjoyed virtually no competition..alas, a monopoly, out of Love Field? Read em and weep, people. Do you honestly think Southwest doesn’t have the money to fight this thing because they’re offering low fares? Get real. They hope the amendment never goes away. It’s also made for a PR dream for Southwest. Listen to you people feeling sorry for them. Southwest isn’t suffering, we are.

Chris Kolenda's picture
Chris Kolenda on June 26, 2004 - 23:44 Permalink

I live in Houston, about 20 minutes from Hobby airport. I LUUUVV the Wright & Shelby Amendments, because it forces Southwest Airlines to put a gigunda hub at Hobby Airport with service to destinations all over the United States. (heee … heee … it almost makes up for our crummy football team compared to Dallas ….)

elsa's picture
elsa on June 27, 2004 - 03:05 Permalink

I have been a staunch supporter of Southwest Airlines since I moved to Houston 21 years ago. I am now contemplating a job that requires a move to Dallas. While quite a bit of my travel will be able to continue on SWA, I will not be able to fly to Phoenix without carrying and rechecking baggage, not an easy thing to do with computer, suitcase, instrumentation, etc.

Worse yet, and this is my selfish self speaking, it will be difficult to go on longer “one suitcase, plus computer” “vacations” to such locations as LA, Portland, Jacksonville, Chicago, or even Las Vegas due to the “re-check and re-check in” ruling.

This stinks. I would rather take a beating than fly out of DFW: it is the MOST user-UNfriendly airport that I have experienced, and I grew up in Chicago and dealt with O’Hare, which is NEVER a picnic!

I think it’s time to get rid of the Wright Amendment!

Harold's picture
Harold on June 29, 2004 - 13:09 Permalink

Southwest Airlines has been very good to me. I am now a senior and am permitted to fly anywhere Southest goes for $129 +, even SeaTac to Long Island (Islip).

I grew up near Dallas, now live in Tucson and Bremerton, WA and occasionally help my brother at his farm in Texas. I have to fly to Albuquerque (or El Paso), recheck baggage, etc., as everyone knows.

My memory is that this amendment came into being as a protectionist move, an attempt to save now-defunct airlines that didn’t have the management acumen Southwest has.

Now in the days of so-called free trade, the amendment seems to encourage everything but free trade. In spite of this unreasonable restriction, Southwest has been one of the very few lines to succeed.

I’ll add my name to any petition to Congress to remove this trade barrier.

Harold's picture
Harold on June 29, 2004 - 13:25 Permalink

To Reality Check in Dallas:
I am aware that Southwest Air merely shrugs when customers complain about the amendment. I also agree that originally there was an attempt to pull business into DFW. When I arrived there from New York in 1955, there was nobody at home.

It is also true that Love Field, once “out” from town, is not far from some expensive residential real estate. Just the Dallas-Houston traffic alone creates a lot of landings-take-offs, somewhere around 30 flights a day.

Still, it’s a protectionist law.

John Dreese's picture
John Dreese on July 6, 2004 - 17:13 Permalink

For RealityCheck:
You’re right, SWA has a monopoly over Texas intrastate flights just as powerful as the monopoly that AA has over long-haul flights. I don’t feel sorry for SWA. I feel sorry for the millions of DFW residents held captive by this terrible consumer-hostile system.

For Elsa:
I agree that DFW is a bad airport. The design and layout is just about the worst in the nation. To their credit, the DFW board is trying to improve it by using updated tran systems (the current one is a joke). By comparison, the Tampa airport is a model of an efficient airport layout.

FYI: Actually, the DFW board invites Southwest Airlines to come to DFW every year and Southwest declines. Their reason is not really cost, but schedule. DFW is so congested that it’s nearly impossible to guarantee any semblence of “on-time service”. Over the past two years (since I moved here), my incoming American Airlines flights have had to park on the tarmac to wait for a gate to open. Part of Southwests efficiency depends on short turnaround time for the planes at the gates. With up to 20 planes waiting for takeoff sometimes (I counted on a recent flight), SWA can’t maintain schedule at DFW.

Joe Garrison's picture
Joe Garrison on July 7, 2004 - 15:30 Permalink

Big Business and Big Government at work.

Blake's picture
Blake on July 18, 2004 - 19:22 Permalink

This is a ridiculous law, not in with free enterprise in the USA. I live in CT and I am inconvenienced over politics

Jason's picture
Jason on July 19, 2004 - 03:57 Permalink

Go to www.governmail.com and look up your senators and congress persons. E-mail and fax them and you can make a difference.

Jimmie R's picture
Jimmie R on August 10, 2004 - 07:39 Permalink

Protectionism at it’s finest….
The Wright Amendment may have been needed 30 years ago to “protect” the viability of the “big airport” (DFW) until it could come into it’s own. Well, it has florished these past 20 years and portions have been torn down and a new hotel and terminal are under construction.
Meanwhile over at Luv Field Southwest continues to enjoy a near-monopoly of short haul flights to our friendly contiguous states. The Shelby Amendment to the Wright Amendment added three other states (Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas) but what have we seen from SWA? Yeah, you can be ticketed to Jackson MS or Birmingham AL, from Luv Field; BUT you still gotta make a connection either in Houston or New Orleans —- in other words no non-stops to the new states! That sucks!
Everyone knows what will happen if the Wright-Shelby Amendments are repealed —- Luv field will become a mad house of expansionism as carriers (particularly AA) scramble to get a share of available gate space. We would probably end up with lower fares but reduced service (especially on SWA).
If I was a big shot at SWA I’d 1) work to get the amendments repealed; 2)welcome the competition “home” to Luv Field and 3) as soon as they (AA & DAL) get established at Luv start flying SWA out of DFW at a pace that AA or DAL could never match —- end result would be end of AA and end of DAL as high priced carriers!!

Minda's picture
Minda on August 16, 2004 - 20:42 Permalink

This stupid, stupid regulation also keeps people in Arkansas from flying directly to Nashville. How? Well, the flight is apparently considered as “originating” in Dallas, not Little Rock, so instead of flying directly to Nashville in about 1-1.25 hours, you get to fly to St. Louis, have a layover, and end up in Nashville in more time than it would take you to drive there. I haven’t checked, but you could probably get there faster hopping on one foot.
End this limitation on public transportation. It is bad for the economies of the cities affected.

Benjamin Taylor's picture
Benjamin Taylor on September 14, 2004 - 09:54 Permalink

I’m a college stupid in Philadelphia, originating and having my home in Dallas. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to fly home on Southwest, and my only other viable alternative is to fly on American Airlines as they have a basic monopoly over DFW. Does anyone have a concise source of consumer outrage and information setup? Such as a website or others?

justin's picture
justin on October 13, 2004 - 08:15 Permalink

Read nuts by Herb Keller and it will explain his position on these ammendemnts

you kno's picture
you kno on May 5, 2006 - 02:52 Permalink


unknown's picture
unknown on May 5, 2006 - 03:12 Permalink

chad sopata:guilty, lisa typed up his non guilty statement. violanted victim no 2=this is what they do, they destroy human life., tell the military to order suspensions of there military badges before they end up killing us!…

Olivia Rukavina's picture
Olivia Rukavina on May 10, 2022 - 19:50 Permalink

20 years!