A Simple Solution: Whether to Allow Chick-fil-A in Airports

San Antonio airport banned Chick-fil-A from opening there due to what they see as the chain’s political beliefs. Buffalo airport quickly followed suit. San Jose airport plans to combat Chick-fil-A with rainbow flags.

I think Chick-fil-A is a great option, but I don’t like that they’re closed Sundays which is one of the biggest travel days of the week. I think it’s reasonable for an airport authority to want every restaurant location to open 7 days to serve passengers, just as they often require every location open for breakfast even if they don’t traditionally serve breakfast.

I don’t think, however, that a public airport authority ought to make decisions about which chains can open on premises based on the beliefs or donations of the company or its founders.

However I had a suggestion for airports that are reluctant to allow Chick-fil-A, or that want chicken sandwich goodness available to passengers seven days: Flyrite Chicken Sandwiches.

Flyrite oddly didn’t start as an airport chicken chain. They have two brick and mortar locations in Austin, Those stores participate in a coalition loyalty program. Now there’s a location at the Austin airport, run by Delaware North. It opened in March. Chicken and waffles for breakfast, friend and grilled chicken for lunch.

The three year old chain was started as an upscale competitor to Chick-fil-A.

If you make it through Austin, they’re located near the American and United clubs and the Salt Lick barbecue. In fact they’re where Schlotzky’s and Salt Lick used to be, beside East Side Pies and Amy’s Ice Cream.

The place is hard to miss:

This is “The Cowboy” which is “spicy crispy chicken sandwich topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos and hoss sauce.” And it was ordered with tater tots.

Airports can have chicken sandwiches, regardless of their politics.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. every single time i pass thru ATL the Chick-fil-A always has a massive line and every other restaurant is dead

  2. So basically a company should be forced to sacrifice it’s religious beliefs in the Sabbath to do business airports? Seems different than forcing breakfast.

  3. Space in airports is limited. Since you want that space to be best used, if the company will close on one of the busiest days of the week, its better rented to someone else. It has NOTHING to do with them sacrificing their beliefs. They can still do business, its just not a good fit. This doesn’t even TOUCH upon their homophobia.

  4. However, If Chick fil A was owned by Muslims everything would be OK.
    The hypocrisy on the Left is astounding.

  5. Gary, if they supported taking your children away maybe you wouldn’t just talk about it as political differences…they are a hate organizations but you always manage to marginalize gay families. Oh yeah, you supported gay marriage so that makes you a supported of our families? Apparently not

  6. Even more ridiculous they are in the Atlanta Stadium. Football games are on Sunday so it’s closed for almost every game of the season. What’s the point?

  7. Chick-fil-A has a lot going for itself. First, their chicken is awesome. Second their customer service is also awesome. At a personal level, I applaud their stand on being closed on Sunday. You do not have to be a religious person to know down time is good. It is good for machines, people, and life overall. Those who work seven days a week probably know this better than anyone else. From a business perspective, does it hurt to have a closed restaurant on a Sunday in an airport? I don’t think so. I get flights half or more off when I am will to stay overnight on a Saturday. Why? Because Sunday is DEAD at the airport. If Chick-fil-A were closed on a Monday or a Friday, you’d might have an issue. If they are paying the same rent as everyone else, let it be, but that’s me.

  8. The owner believing homosexuality is wrong, is not a political belief, it’s a religious belief. Personally I WANT people to think others should be forced to believe as they do. It means they will be whiny little brats all their lives – and work for MY kids who believe thinking should be free, you know, in America.

  9. “Not open on Sunday” is often used as a red herring to argue against this restaurant. I understand both sides in the argument about whether you agree with the founder’s donations. Fine. Then don’t eat there, but don’t prevent people who have different beliefs than you from eating there.

    If the objective is to maximize revenues for the airport and serve passengers food they will (and want to) eat, Chick-fil-a has always sold more per location in six days then any of their competition, including Starbucks and McDonalds, do in seven days. Another lousy fast food place that is open seven days a week that people actively avoid doesn’t serve anyone’s interest – the traveling public or the airport.

  10. Another simple solution. Let consumers decide what they want to eat themselves. No one is forced to eat CFA chicken. Just go to the Ron’s and have a insipid Big Mac, served with the special sauce of bad attitude and bad service.

  11. Allen Roskoff, The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes are are hardly “hate organizations”. Go troll your nonsense someplace else, we’ve got chicken sandwiches to eat.

  12. @Bob we have labor laws. The same crew doesn’t work 7 days a week.

    Machines need servicing but not down time.

    The airports get a percentage of revenue in addition to base rents. If it’s closed one day a week, thats 14.2% less revenue.

    Sunday’s are basically as busy as a Tuesday – which is within 10% of the busiest days.

    With passenger loads in excess of 80% there are no real “down” days at the airport.

  13. @Robert – my point about Sundays isn’t revenue maximization it’s utilizing limited restaurant space to feed passengers. And I’m not suggesting ‘another lousy fast food place’ I’m suggesting a chicken sandwich that’s better than Chick-fil-A’s.

  14. @Sam – Sorry but the data does not support your claim that a Sunday is the same is a Tuesday. Maybe that works in isolated locations like Orlando or Atlantic City. However, airports the likes of San Antonio are not losing 14.2% revenue for Chick-fil-A being closed on a Sunday. Also, Chick-fil-A is far more popular than any other fast food that would be there instead, so again your revenue comments are not substantiated. I have not made an argument for or against a decision to not allow a restaurant that closes one day a week, I respect the airport’s authority to make such decisions based on whatever model of governance and operational policies they have. But, let’s not rationalize a decision with inaccurate commentary. I find it encouraging that no one has argued against the deliciousness of the product or the awesomeness of their customer service; well done Chick-fil-A!

  15. The decisions to disallow them in airports seems to be because they have conservative Judeo-Christian beliefs like the traditional family-not because of any P & L issues for the airport. I’ve seen no evidence that they “hate’ anyone since I moved here from the NY metro area 25 years ago. Remember when the LGBTQ -or such- urged a one day boycott of them several years ago? They had their biggest one day of sales in their history. I live about 25 minutes south of their HQ which is near ATL. I have neighbors who work there and neighborhood kids who work in the stores. The employees don’t proselytize, have great manners and seem to me to be pretty satisfied to work there. The company doesn’t care if an employee is religious, a non-believer, a heretic, gay, bi, trans, whatever. You do have to be pleasant and want to provide good service though…. and that they do.

  16. As stated previously, the problem some have with Chick-Fil-A is not their political beliefs, its their religious beliefs. The reason CFA is closed on sunday is unclear, but if it is based on some evangelical respect for the christian sabbath, that’s a religious belief.

    If it is based on a desire not to overwork the staff, that is neither religious or political. Though any assertion that closing on Sunday is to give staff a day off seems pretextual because you don’t have to close the store to give workers and managers a day off. Just make hours of work limits a stipulation of the franchise agreement. That solves the overwork issue as far as CFA is concerned and increases revenue for CFA. Plus closing CFA guarantees no one anything except they can’t work at CFA, but they can work elsewhere on that day and any of their other off days at CFA. People can and do legally work seven days in a week for the same employer in certain situations. The Fair Labor Standards Act covers the types of work schedules and rates of pay in these situations.

  17. The decision to not put a chicken chick fil a in BUF airport was a decision made by the concessionaire not the airport authority.

  18. So just to be clear, Liberals would be totally cool with Chick-Fil-A was owned by a Illegal alien Muslim founder, who’s company will to be closed on Fridays for Muslim sabbath (including airports, you know busiest day of the week for flying), while the company donates to ISIS charities and who thinks the death by beheading is a great punishment for gays.

    Viva inclusive diversity! Well…unless you are a Christian…

  19. “The decision was due to the company’s “long history of supporting and funding anti-LGBTQ organizations,” according to New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who had fought having Chick-Fil-A at the airport. ” USA Today

    If it were a bottom line financial reason then Chic-fil-a would win out due to profitability. The average revenue they make in six days beats Mcdonalds, the next closest, by 30% in seven days.

  20. Politics should be banned. It is a fool’s errand for people with way too much time on their hands. Politicians are people who cannot earn their keep in any other human endeavor, the last refuge of the mentally weak and egotistical. When food becomes politicized it has gone too far. I hope ChickFilA is force fed to every politicial activist and lobbyist until they vomit.

  21. Is LBGT a religion,, or was people born that way..

    Everyone should be free to edpxoress them self.l

    Muslims believe that way..

  22. I’d love to have Chick-Fil-A in airports. So what if they aren’t open on Sundays? Eat somewhere else.
    Not so many years ago alcohol sales were banned in airports on Sundays and Election Days.
    What’s the big deal? Halal food is served in airports and no one complains about that. Some airports even have Kosher food. Get real folks.

  23. Nothing against Flyrite, but the caption that “it’s hard to miss” is a bit ironic seeing how many people are lined up to eat there. CFA does more business in six days than just about anybody else in seven, and I am almost certain there are plenty of places left to eat at if just one is closed once a week. If Chick-Fil-A discriminated against customers or staff due to LGBT issues or anything else, I wouldn’t eat there either. Nobody has even hinted at that. But I think the Constitution gives people a right to their religious beliefs, and people can choose whether or not to patronize them. Excluding them because you disagree with them is a First Amendment issue, and I know both sides of the political chasm have attacked the First Amendment when it suits them.

  24. Who would care about the PRIVATELY expressed religious views if the chicken people? Not a single soul. They decided to use their wealth to fund hate groups, including those engaging in morally reprehensible conversion therapy and other discriminatory campaigns. They like to hide behind constitutional protections in these matters, but in reality they use their money to foster inequality and hatred.
    They have no place in publicly owned space. It is commendable that many airports and universities have effectively shown them the door. There are many alternative purveyors of sandwiches to meet demand ( ones that do not engage in hate campaigns aimed at one group in the community).

  25. This is not the issue at all. The issue with San Antonio airport was a bigoted local politician using his position to preempt consumer choice of what that wanted to eat. He broke his fiduciary duty in order to impose his prejudices on a commercial decision. He should be fired and the board replaced.

    What next? Vegans ban all meat because because it does not conform to their beliefs?

    The only principle that can be applied, and is consistent with a free society, is “consumers make their own choices”.

    @Gary: This inane posting shows a total inability to think clearly.

    And regarding of the red herring issue of the viability of Chick-fil-a when they don’t open on Sunday: Go you Dallas Love Field and look where consumers vote with their wallets.

  26. Would banning Chick-fil-A for supporting the Ku Klux Klan, or Neo Nazi’s be acceptable? I think banning them for supporting such organizations would be appropriate, although based on other comments here, I suspect many readers might think it is fine if Chick-fil-A supported the KKK or Neo Nazi’s. After all, the food is good. But if you Google hate groups, you will find Anti LGBT groups in the same lists as the KKK and the Neo Nazi’s.

  27. @Mike: “Would banning Chick-fil-A for supporting the Ku Klux Klan, or Neo Nazi’s be acceptable?”

    For @Mike to do it for @Mike’s consumption? Perfectly fine. In fact @Mike can ban Chick-fil-a for @Mike for any reason he chooses.

    However, when @Mike (because, like biggus dickus, he ‘wanks as high as any in Wome’, etc.) claims he can start banning what other people can do then @Mike IS the Nazi.

  28. “This is “The Cowboy” which is “spicy crispy chicken sandwich topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos and hoss sauce.” And it was ordered with tater tots.”

    I’d prefer it come with an angioplasty.

  29. @Kevin

    There is a very popular Moslem chain serving chicken, the Halal Boys. Lines around the block when they opened in Chicago. Also open on Fridays. Islam is not a sabbatical religion. And ISIS has killed a great many Moslems and destroyed a great many mosques & shrines.

  30. When will Chick-Fil-A dog whistles stop for leftist progressives? My computer store of choice is run by observant Jews in the Big Apple who stay closed every Saturday and Jewish holiday. That won’t stop me from giving them my business, due to their high quality goods and superb services. The same holds true for the falafel shop down the street, run by a Muslim who choses to be unavailable during Friday religious services. Chick-Fil-A also has my business, except on Sundays, when they are closed. The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits our government from making laws which prohibit the free exercise of religion.

  31. This is not about religion, it is about Chick-fil-A supporting hate groups. Closed on Sunday is mostly an excuse for both sides. But it is not discriminating against any religion if you require a business to be available every day of the week to provide required services. It is also not about free speech. Chick-fil-A can say whatever they want. But sometimes there are consequences when you say certain things.

  32. @Mike describes the stance of the San Antonio city council perfectly: Mess with the leftist progressives, and you will pay the price! If your religious views don’t align with their opinion, there are consequences to be paid. It’s a trivial matter if the US Constitution or the law states otherwise, we’ll penalize anyone who disagrees! With the smell of socialism is in the air, it’s now go for broke among the far left.

  33. Why do people keep talking about religion? Chick-fil-A donates to hate groups. That is the issue.

  34. @Mike because their leader tells them to argue that they are being discriminated against because of their religion. They can’t understand that its the support of hate groups thats the major issue.

  35. Amazing this thread has lasted so long & I seldom followup, but . . . both free speech and freedom of religion are part of the First Amendment. Hate groups have free speech rights and a government authority should not be picking and choosing who is a hate group, even with groups we would all agree upon. When I was on the staff of the IL House we tried to devise a constitutional way to keep the Nazis from marching in Skokie. Couldn’t do it.

  36. Chick-fil-A can donate to who they want, hate groups can speak. Hate groups can March. No one is stopping any of that. We are talking about simply choosing not to sign a lease with a company that donates to hate groups. As I said in an earlier posts, even though you are allowed to do something, that does not mean that what you do does not have consequences. The first amendment, to my knowledge, does not say that the government must do business with hate groups, or supporters thereof.

  37. @Mike: The responsibility of the government body is a fiduciary responsibility to the people they represent. They cannot exclude the public from making a choice as to where they will take their business just because they have their own prejudices.

    The nazis in this story are the members on the airport board that chose to ban Chick-fil-a rather than let the public choose where to shop. They should be fired and the decision rescinded.

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