Years ago I spent nearly 7 hours in the Phoenix airport waiting for my ATA flight to Hawaii to get off the ground. Allegedly, the plane had a “mechanical problem” that needed to be fixed in order for us to take off. Interestingly, the “mechanical problem” morphed into a weather delay (the weather in Arizona was fine) around hour five of our wait. In any case, when we finally departed I remember thinking I never want to be stuck in that airport again. What airport? Exactly. For as many hours as I spent walking around the place I never once learned the official name of the airport. I later learned it’s called Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and it’s the Phoenix Metropolitan area’s only commercial airport.
What about you? Have you ever visited a city and departed without ever learning the official name of the airport you spent time in? I would guess that millions of travlers often refer to their destination ariport by the city’s name and are completely oblivous to what the airport’s official name is. That said I found it very interesting that controversy is brewing over a name change for the Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona.
Officials want the name of the airport to be changed to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, which would remove Williams as a reference to the airport’s historic military past. The change is being proposed as part of an agreement between the airport and an airline that plans to start service there. (According to airline execs, they don’t care what the name is as long as the word “Phoenix” appears in it.)
However, the move to eliminate the “Williams” has angered many Arizona residents who were stationed or employed as civilians at the airport’s predecessor, Williams Air Force Base. For the past six decades, the airport and the base have bore the name of Lt. Charles L. Williams, a little known soldier who died in 1927.
So, on one side of the emotionally charged issue you have the opponents who want the airport to still reflect it’s military roots, and on the other side you have members of the airport authority who want to include “Phoenix” in the name as a marketing tool that would potentially reach millions of prospective passengers. Then there are those in the middle who maintain that the name of an airport doesn’t bring or breed success. Rather; they say, “It’s the management, the location, flight schedules, access and other things that attract passengers and airline service.”
What are your thoughts about the name change? Do you judge an airport by its name? And how many of you even know the official names of the airports you fly into?