Dallas Love Field was finally free.
On October 13, the decades-old Wright Amendment restrictions were lifted, allowing long-haul domestic flights from the airport closest to downtown Dallas.
Southwest Airlines, the main airline at Love Field, had lobbied local and Congressional leaders to get rid of the restrictions and a compromise was finally reached in 2006. But it wouldn’t be until eight years later that the restrictions which limited flights out of Love Field to only a handful of states unless the airline used planes with fewer than 56 seats, would be eliminated.
Travelers were finally able to fly nonstop to Denver, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and other destinations as Southwest added more cities and flights out of Love. Virgin America also moved its operations from DFW to Love to launch service to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C.
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To celebrate, Gary Kelly, Southwest's chairman and CEO, scanned boarding passes and passed out hugs to passengers as they boarded the inaugural nonstop flight to Denver at 6:40 a.m. The company also unfurled a banner on its headquarters building, visible from Love Field's runways, declaring, "Goodbye, Wright Amendment. Hello, America."
Sir Richard Branson, co-owner of Virgin America, held a party for customers and guests on a quick flight from DFW to Dallas before the airline started its regular operations at Love.
Not all of the restrictions went away, though, as Love Field is limited to only 20 gates and international flights are prohibited.
"The real beneficiaries of the Wright Amendment going away are people who live closer to Love Field than to DFW, " said Bud Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University. "It's also a real plus for downtown Dallas because you now have an airport 10 minutes from downtown."