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At Dallas Love Field, Goodbye Wright Amendment; Hello Nonstop Flights

BJ Austin
At Dallas Love Field, you are now free to move about the country non-stop on Southwest Airlines and Virgin America.

At Dallas Love Field, starting Monday, you are now free to move about the country nonstop on Southwest Airlines and Virgin America. The Wright Amendment flight restrictions are expiring. 

That means Love Field travelers can get to both coasts in one hop.

The 1979 federal amendment, named for Fort Worth Congressman Jim Wright, placed restrictions on air travel at Love Field. The idea was to protect the new DFW International Airport, which had opened five years earlier.

“Anytime you have laws that artificially inhibit commerce that’s not a good thing,” said airline analyst Holly Hegeman with “Obviously DFW International is way past the point that it needs to be coddled or fed or taken care of.” 

Hegeman says the disappearance of the Wright Amendment creates a new relationship between Love Field and DFW carriers. And that’s going to be good for travelers.

“Now everybody’s going to be on the same playing field,” Hegeman said. “That includes Spirit, which will be on the very low end of the scale and up through Southwest and through our legacy carrier American Airlines. So I think it’s only good for passengers. I think we will see more competitive pricing. Obviously more routes. There’s nothing bad about any of that.”

There will be more routes out of Love Field starting Monday, says Dan Landson with Southwest Airlines.

“We’re launching new, non-stop, never-before-offered from Dallas Love Field service to 15 cities,” he said.

Seven new non-stops Monday include Denver, Las Vegas, and Chicago Midway. Eight more begin Nov. 2.

At Love Field, passengers Diane Whittington and Sandeep Bopanna are glad to say buh-bye to the Texas two-step – that required stop-over.

“I’m looking forward to now having to change planes though Houston or New Orleans, which is just a pain. So it’ll just be nice to have a direct flight. We don’t have these monster layovers or all these hops. So we’re more than happy with the expiration of the amendment.”

Passenger Tom Arnold sees more travel options ahead at Love Field.

“Now that it’s being repealed it’s going to open up Dallas Love for tremendous opportunities for growth for this whole area,” he said. “It’s going to be great.”

The first big change: Virgin America. Effective Monday, the airline with its first-class and high-tech amenities is out of DFW and into Love Field with non-stops to both coasts.  

While Love Field will get a lot busier, it won’t get much bigger. It’s capped at 20 gates under an agreement that cleared the way for repeal of the Wright Amendment.

Pat White with the Love Field Citizens Action Committee had a voice in that deal. She says the 20-gate cap allows more service, but keeps airport noise at acceptable levels.  And for White, there’s an unexpected benefit. Her daughter who lives in San Francisco has a Virgin America ticket to come home for Thanksgiving.

“We’ve been picking her up at Virgin Air at DFW,” White said. “So now we’ll just go just past the hood and pick her up at Love Field.”

At least for now, a former critic is feeling the love.  

Learn more 

On KERA's "Think," aviation writers with The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram discussed the end of the Wright Amendment. Listen to that conversation here.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.