Topic of the Week: The Dumbest Job for An Airport Manager

ATL - Atlanta

The City of Atlanta decided to task its airport manager with one of the dumbest jobs I can imagine. That job? To come up with a plan to get people to call Atlanta’s airport by its full name, Hartsfield-Jackson. What other absurd things have you seen tasked to an airport manager?

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

41 comments on “Topic of the Week: The Dumbest Job for An Airport Manager

  1. Well, now I know why it’s called Heartsfield-Jackson, something I didn’t know before. So it worked for me!

  2. Only Atlanta would name its airport after a mayor so closely connected with personal gain from airport corruption. It is true that when Maynard Jackson became our first black mayor in 1973 Atlanta was still mired in racism and Jackson helped increase minority participation in airport businesses, and for that he deserves credit. But from then on Jackson was closely associated with corruption scandals and personal gain for himself and members of his family. He turned a racist, whites-only airport (a bad thing) into a personal cookie jar (another bad thing). And now the airport is named for him. That’s just bizarre.

  3. I live in the Atlanta area. I remember after they renamed it , yet again from the original Candler Field. Someone commented the new tongue twister should be shortened to Ha-Jack Int’l. The airport in general is home to malfeasance & political favors such as the millionaire connected people that qualify for disadvantaged contracts.

  4. When organizations have to basically say “hey, our branding effort isn’t working, so please pitch in and help us save face,” you know you’re in trouble.
    It also seems people have issues when politicians try to change airport names. (DCA, BWI, EWR all come to mind.) Shoot, I still know people who call JFK “Idlewild.” Old habits die hard.
    Years ago I lived in Scranton, PA (AVP.) The local politicos really wanted the place to be called by its full long-winded name of “Wilkes Barre Scranton International Airport,” which of course no one did. I was boarding one day and saw a note posted in the jet bridge for agents, etc to see. “Please always refer to AVP by its full names of “Wilkes Barre Scranton Intl Airport.” They never did. What was the city going to do to the airlines? Punish them by taking away their right to fly to a money-losing station? Please.

    1. Idlewild? I’ll admit I haven’t heard that one before. I haven’t actually heard anyone refer to Mines Field either, except in jest.

  5. While it never seems dumb to spend airport authority money to seek out new service, it does seem silly to overshoot for service. For example, many airports seem to look for international flights or major point-to-point service when they really should be marketing for better hub connectivity, especially when they do not have full hub connectivity now. See Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach, Gary/Chicago. It’s good to shoot for the sky, but start with building the basics and then you can really go for the sky.

    Maybe Atlanta should spend money on an honest evaluation of the impact of building a second airport as opposed to spending money to patrol flight attendants to make sure when that redeye flight lands they use the whole name of the airport.

  6. How about the airport control kerfuffle in CLT? The non-interim interim manager for the city, Brent Cagle, replacing the almost lifer Jerry (J. Edgar Hoover) Orr who had two jobs and no duties for awhile. The former mayor now-governor sort-of siding with the city over state control and the former mayor now Sec of DOT not telling FAA to fast-track decision. American being caught in the middle; Orr being blamed for some deferred maintenance; and Cagle having to defend Orr because the maintenance was deferred under city control, which ostensibly he wants FAA to decide!

  7. I’m sorry, but the name is just too damn long. It makes no sense to name the airport after two people. And why are both the airport AND the international terminal named after the same person? Next time you’re there, be sure the check in on Facebook, where the airport is listed as “Atlanta Hartsfield Latoya Jackson International Spaceport”.

  8. I have lived in Atlanta for 20 years and traveled from ATL several times a month for the last 15. No one I know has ever called it Hartsfield airport, much less Hartsfield-Jackson after the name change. It was called the airport by locals – and simply Atlanta airport by most other people. It always has been, and unless the City of Atlanta changes their name, it always will be.

    Apparently Atlanta’s moronic politicians have solved every other problem and can now tackle the all important Airport Re-Branding project…

    1. We had the same politicians try to change Orange County (SNA California) airport’s name to John Wayne Airport. A political deal that politicians in Newport Beach tried to foster on the whole country as a payback to the money donated by Wayne to various political groups, and pushed through (snuck) at an 11th hour meeting. Thousands of charts/time tables/ airline codes, etc all because of a payback. To this day, schedules have both names inserted. And we all thought Geronimo was the enemy.

    2. Unless a city has two or more airports, there is no need to name them anything other than City X Airport.

  9. Use his presidential powers to pardon a turkey! Hey, wait, that was a lot of fun… and feasible. ;)

  10. From the hard to believe department, the Brownsville Texas Airport manager has to collect the coins from the parking meters in the short term parking lot. HIs chief of operations and maintenance supervisor make up the triumvirate who collect these funds. The counting of the coins is left to minions.

    1. ROFL One has to wonder if the annual revenue from said parking meters pays even one of their salaries, or if would be a great work-reducer and PR move to just make short-term parking free (with good $100 tickets on cars there over 2 hours, and signs to that effect to keep it short term).

  11. It was a bad move to add Jackson’s name to the airport. It upset the Hartsfield family and was a slap in his face. They should have left the international terminal named after Jackson and left the airport name alone.

    What’s next? Will we add Campbell, Franklin, and Hall to the name as well in a few years as they are past mayors as well?

    For me, I just call it the LaToya Jackson International Spaceport.

  12. Seriously? It’s not like the city of Atlanta has anything to gain from people saying the whole name. It’s not even like half the people flying through ATL would even know who the hell Jackson was. It is a fairly common name after all. Had I not known better I would’ve thought it was for Stonewall Jackson of civil war fame. Now if they named it the Coca-Cola Atlanta International Airport…now that makes sense why one would want the full name said due to the branding rights. That said, often I don’t refer to sports stadiums by the foolish companies that plaster their names on them. At least the older ones that once had real names.

    Personally I refer to most airports by their IATA Code. It’s more interesting to me to know that ORD was once Orchard Field than named after some guy named O’Hare.

    1. If people started calling it Coke airport, it might leave the wrong impression. On the other hand, they could use the Eric Clapton theme song. It would be a good explanation for some of the decisions the city makes.

  13. I agree with Atlanta, after all here in California we are always saying we want to fly to Bob Hope, John Wayne, Charles M. Schulz or Norman Y. Mineta. No one ever says Burbank, Orange County, Santa Rosa or San Jose (Calif).

    Just like people in Texas must always be saying they want to fly between George Bush and Rick Husband Airport (Houston/IAH and Amarillo/AMA)

    And in winter snow birds are always asking to fly to Northwest Florida Regional, Northwest Florida Beaches or Northeast Florida Regional airports because everyone knows those names right.

    And it’s against the law to say National Airport instead of Ronald Reagan Washington National right?

    Face it Atlanta the only time a full proper name may be used is in printed ads or news articles, and that’s not always a given if a third party is talking about an airport.

    Could this have come up because there is talk about a second airport in Atlanta and city officals (paid by Delta who doesn’t want a second airport) want everyone programmed to think Hartsfield-Jackson and not any secondary airport name when thinking of Atlanta…….could be!

    1. Washington’s close-in airport is referred to as “National” or “DCA”. The “Reagan” is silent.

    2. DCA’s name is the best filter.. I’ve NEVER heard a local call it anything other than National. If someone throws Reagan in there, they identify themselves perfectly. The pronunciation of Dulles is also a filter, though not as simple.

  14. In my experience everyone who works for ATL calls it by the full name, without exception. I have always found it intriguing, now I know why it’s done. Of course, they do like to add “the busiest airport in the world” parenthetically..for now.

  15. Who is Hartsfield?
    We have a unique situation in so-called Washington, DC. Washington as a city doesn’t really exist since it was merged into the District of Columbia in the 19th century. However, DCA has a distinction as the only airport named after two presidents. FDR did not name Washington National Airport after the city which no longer existed, but after the first President. Then Congress, in its ongoing wisdom, added Ronald Reagan to the name, even though he created problems by firing the air traffic controllers at DCA. So, we have Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

  16. These are the same people who said they wouldn’t sleep at night when they lost the title of world’s busiest airport — what do you expect from them?

  17. Since for years I regularly heard ATL called “Hartsfield,” that’s the name I normally use (or just “Atlanta”). The full official name is just too much of a mouthful. Same problem with National (DCA) and “Bee-Wee” (BWI) and their wanna-be full names. Then there’s Newark (EWR), which is conveniently shortened to “Sew-ark.”

  18. I always love these ridiculously grandiose naming attempts by airports.

    There are many other spectacular failures:

    *”Newark Liberty” – outside the NY media, the Port Authority, and United Airlines, it’s just “Newark” and always will be.

    * “Fresno Yosemite International” – perhaps a noble effort, and one that actually makes some sense and might even attract a new passenger or two by playing up ease of access to Yosemite, but hasn’t really taken hold outside the Fresno government and some of the media. And Fresnans would be so very, very sad not being able to refer to the airport as “FAT” if the airport ever succeeded in getting the code changed, as would the headline writers at the Bee (“Airport gets FAT out of budget”, etc.)

    *”Houston Intercontinental…” – when “International” just doesn’t sound big enough.

    *”Montreal Trudeau…” – I still call it “Dorval”, and I’m (semi-)reliably informed by folks in our local office that in Montreal most people go out of their way to just call it “the airport” since the effective demise of Mirabel.

    *”Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport”, a classic example of the “size of name being inverted to size/importance of thing” rule, in the same way Rhode Island has the longest legal name of any of the US states (“State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”.)

    “Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport” – a failure in the sense that it seems that two-thirds of the media and almost all airlines just say “Sarasota”, royally pissing off the entire city of Bradenton and most of Manatee County.

    (Side opinion: an airport whose only scheduled service from outside the US is pre-clearance flights from Canada should not be allowed to use the word “International” in its name just on the principle that it sounds overblown and pompous.)

  19. Maybe the airport manager could start a rumor on social media that the city is in negotiations to rename it, for a fee, “Atlanta Etihad Aerodrome” or something like that?

  20. The manager’s time would be better spent sweeping floors, cleaning restrooms or flipping burgers. Or, if s/he has the necessary skill, ‘field testing’ the liquor in all bars at ATL. I’m not going use the long-form name.

  21. Atlanta is just fine, it’s a mouth full to say the whole thing….just like Washington National, it will always be national to me and thats what i call it stilllll

  22. Growing up in the Ozarks, with lots of family in the area, I’m now flying into XNA – or “Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport”. However, I’ve noticed that many airlines refer to the airport as “Fayetteville”… granted the “old” airport (mid-90s?) was physically in Fayetteville, but Fayetteville is now 40-ish miles away… and Fayetteville isn’t even the biggest town in the area anymore.

    Having said all of that, I still like to refer to it as “Wal-Mart International” or for my extremely empowered female friends… “Xena Warrior Princess International”

  23. it’s always been Houston Intercontinental and then just Hobby for me….no Houston in front of Hobby, just Hobby by itself…

  24. what about Baltimore Friendship……did anyone ever use it….all the times i have flown in their, its always been Baltimore and nothing else….

  25. The black caucus running Atlanta just can’t give up on endorsing corruption especially at the airport… It’s still going on.. Just ask any of the contractors or concessionaires!!!!

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier