Why is it so Hard to Get to Shreveport?

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I’ve written a couple of pieces over the past few weeks highlighting some reasons to explore the relatively little known city of Shreveport, LA.  Now, here’s the catch.  It’s extraordinarily difficult to get to.  Of course if money is no object, you can get just about anywhere, but it’s the kind of difficult you don’t realize still exists in the USA is 2016.  The 3rd most populous city in Louisiana is still a 3 hour drive to the closest major airport.

I have a history with Shreveport that keeps me coming back fairly often.  Both of my parents were born in the Shreveport/Bossier area; one in Shreveport and one in Bossier, which is apparently an important distinction.  Growing up, all of my grandparents still lived in the area, as did I during summers when my parents were gallivanting around Norway without me (but that’s a story for another day).  I’ve seen Shreveport evolve in some very interesting ways in my almost (but not quite!) 30 year history with the city.

Why is it so hard to get to Shreveport, LA?

(Baby Mags and my brother on one of our many family road trips to Shreveport)

At one time, Shreveport was a pretty heavy player in the oil and gas business.  The United Gas Corporation was headquartered there until it was taken over by Pennzoil and moved out of state, devastating the local economy.  Since then, Shreveport has been forced to shift it’s eggs to other baskets.  In the mid 90s, Shreveport got in on the gambling game and several casino riverboats moved in, revitalizing, but forever changing the local economy.  In classic Louisiana fashion, gambling is not allowed in Shreveport or Bossier City, so large casino hotels are attached to stationary riverboats where the actual gambling occurs, because if it’s on the river it doesn’t count.  They’re notoriously corrupt, but they’re resourceful. Since Hurricane Katrina, thanks to state wide tax incentives, Shreveport has played host to many film and television studios, filming major projects and bringing new revenue to the city.

The Louisiana Film Prize- a short film festival in Shreveport, LA with a $50k payout!

So since at least the mid-90s, Shreveport has relied on casinos and the film industry, both very closely tied to tourism, more specifically both heavily reliant on people’s ability to get to Shreveport.  I would argue that 20 years is plenty of time to shift your cities infrastructure to a more “tourist friendly” model.  In fact, on of the most impressive things about Shreveport is it’s opportunistic nature.  Casinos are a money maker, rather than take the time to change local legislation, they just put them on the water to bypass the problem entirely.  They were able to capture New Orleans’ displaced film industry immediately after Katrina, because they saw dollar signs and quickly jumped at the opportunity.  So why, is it still so hard to get to Shreveport?

Actor, Sean Hayes, said of filming in Shreveport, “getting there is like the beginning of an Indiana Jones movie.”  You know, the part where you get on a rickety plane and make tracks on a map from Orlando to Shreveport via Cairo and Timbuktu?  Yeah, it’s like that.

Photo by Russell Davies

Let’s use Orlando as an example, because that’s where I live.  Say I really like casinos and want to spend the week gambling.  Where should I go?  Vegas is pretty far, but wait, doesn’t Shreveport have casinos 1500 miles closer?  Let’s compare shall we?

Flights from Orlando to Shreveport- Why is Shreveport so hard to get to?Flights from Orlando to Vegas- Why is Shreveport so hard to get to?

Where do you think is a more viable place do go gambling on this random week in April?  Just for argument’s sake, let’s not just take the first options for each, pick your favorite flight.

Flights from Orlando to Shreveport- Why is Shreveport so hard to get to?

Flights from Orlando to Vegas- Why is Shreveport so hard to get to?

Vegas it is, right?  But surely if I’m interested in the film industry Shreveport would be a much more reasonable choice than Hollywood right?

Orlando to Los Angeles- Why is it so hard to get to Shreveport?

Wrong again!

There are few places domestically to which I’m willing to pay $400+ for a ticket.  I like Shreveport, and my family is there and they are pretty great, but it’s hard to justify a trip to Shreveport when I could get to Europe or South America for the same price.

Giant rooster in Shreveport, LA

I have to go to Shreveport, and I do it gladly, but when I do I usually fly into Dallas or Houston, rent a car (make sure it’s one that can cross state lines, I’ve made that mistake before), and drive to the 3-4 hours to Shreveport.  I have family there and I’m obligated to show face every so often, but that’s a lot of inconvenience to expect out of your average tourist, most of whom are unfamiliar with Shreveport and could visit just about anywhere else with more ease and less expense.

Herbie K's in Shreveport, LA

To Shreveport’s credit, I will say that part of it’s charm is that it is more like visiting a time period than a place.  The town is somewhat of a time capsule of the American South that’s probably been able to remain that way because of it’s relative isolation.  While Shreveport is the 3rd largest city in the state of Louisiana, it’s still a small town.  You’re likely to meet people that have been in the area for generations and you’re unlikely to go a day without hearing a Fats Domino song or the story of how Elvis performed at the Louisiana Hayride in 1954.  I suppose these are the kinds of things that are preserved in a place that’s not easy to get to, but still, if you’re trying to draw a tourist trade to your city, the most expensive airfare in the country is not the way to do it.

The Louisiana Hayride at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium

So Shreveport, you have tourist draws, you rely on an influx of people for your economy, Why are you so hard to get to?

14 thoughts on “Why is it so Hard to Get to Shreveport?

  1. Interesting analysis…it’s too bad a city with that kind of history and appeal has done nothing to make their location more accessible. I also have ties to Shreveport, but I haven’t been since I was about 3. My father was stationed there in the Air Force when my sister was born (many years ago!). So I was very interested in what you had to say about it!

  2. It’s a shame that this place is so hidden because it sounds like a great place to visit but then again, sometimes too many tourists can spoil a place.

  3. The problem with the airport is that it is to big and has to much overhead. I had a class taught by the airport manager. They look to make money off of everything. Case in point, two carriers were trying to share a gate between the two companies, splitting the terminal fee. The airport caught wind of it and made them pay the full terminal fee. I personally fly out of longview. Tickets are normally $70-$80 cheaper and parking is free. The Shreveport airport is an example of wrong size driving greed. Does anyone know the tax rate for the casinos and how much was collected?

  4. Shreveport sounds like a charming town to visit. Even though it doesn’t have direct access, there is something nice about it remaining “tourist-free.” Though I do agree with your assessment, it’s hard to justify spending so much when you can go South America for about the same 🙂

  5. There are quite a few places around the country in the same boat. Due to airlines cutting availability it costs me $300 to fly to NYC from Norfolk, VA. It’s ridiculous!

  6. Without much competition from low-fare carriers, legacy airlines can charge whatever they want. My uncle lives in Huntsville, AL, which has one of the highest avg air fares of any airport in the US. I’m sure Shreveport is in a similar boat.

  7. Great job comparing info and presenting your argument! Shreveport seems like a boom waiting to happen if only it were easier to get to! I think, though, this is an issue with several places in the SE United States. Places like Asheville or even Pensacola can be either difficult or pricey to get to.

  8. Hmmmm … i have heard of Shreveport quite a bit, but never knew it was so difficult to get to! it is a lot like flying domestically in British Columbia. it is often cheaper to fly to Mexico or Hawaii than it is to fly a 1 hour flight to Northern BC!

  9. Cassie

    I’m originally from Shreveport. It has it’s charms but I always dread having to go back to visit. Not only is it expensive to fly in, but there’s little to no public transportation in town and the cabs are few and far between. That’s a tough one for a left coaster that hasn’t owned a car in years to deal with. So I agree with you, better management at the airport would help a lot, and I’d also lobby for better public transport and less sprawl.

  10. I never realized how hard it was to get to Shreveport. Every time I’ve been, it’s been passing throu on a roadtrip, but I’ve never specifically went to visit. Maybe I need to change that.

  11. I have my own set of personal favorites that are not as easy to get too and sometimes, I actually love it that way. It prevents the place from being too exploited by big scale tourism. I’ve never been to Louisiana and I’ve recently read a couple of articles about the state and its people and I’m more than willing to check it out if I get the chance! Thanks for sharing this place obviously close to your heart!

  12. I think that’s really sad that it’s hard to get to because it sounds like an interesting place. I was down in that area a few years ago but of course didn’t go to Shreveport because it was so hard to get to!

  13. Uma

    As bad as it seems to pay $400 for a domestic air flight ticket in the United States, it’s pocket change to compared to what we pay here in Canada sometimes for certain one way tickets. To get from centers in the Canadian Maritimes to other parts of Canada for example, I’ve paid as much as seven or eight hundred dollars for the privilege of flying one way … shocking!

  14. […] made my first purchase on the card.  Airfare to Shreveport for […]

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