The San Antonio airport won’t be getting a Chick-fil-A. The city council awarded a new food service contract — and a condition of doing so was that the company awarded the deal had to drop its plan to open a Chick-fil-A because of Chick-fil-A’s political beliefs, that they’ve been ‘associated with anti-LGBTQ’ groups and causes.
Though the restaurant chain no longer donates to many of the causes that it had supported a decade ago, like the Family Research Council, they’ve continued giving to charities such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Ironically the deal for the restaurant wasn’t even with Chick-fil-A and Chick-fil-A wouldn’t have operated it. The plan to open and run a Chick-fil-A was part of an overall bid by concessionaire Paradies Lagardère, which beat out HMSHost for the space. Airport restaurants are generally run by concessions companies like Delaware North and OTG and not the companies associated with the brands you know.
Alaska Airlines started flying to San Antonio in 2012 only months after the airline stopped handing out prayer cards to passengers. I guess it’s a good thing Alaska stopped if they want to fly to San Antonio!
There are perfectly valid reasons not to have Chick-fil-A in an airport. Indeed, valid reasons for many airports to refuse to lease to Chick-fil-A — not because of their stance on political issues but because of their refusal to open on Sundays.
- There’s limited retail space on airport concourses. They need to use that space to provide the most effective service possible to passengers, seven days a week. Indeed, Sunday is a heavy travel day. Choosing a restaurant chain that will provide food on Sundays makes sense.
- Airports regularly require restaurants to be open for breakfast, even if they normally only serve lunch and dinner foods. It’s why you may find an airport Japanese restaurant serving eggs, even egg burritos. Because airports don’t want to take up space that’s underutilized for serving passengers.
- Chick-fil-A may find they do enough business without opening on Sundays, perhaps people will go to Chick-fil-A a certain number of times during a week or month and will simply shift their patronage to the days that the restaurant is open. But people patronize airport food establishments on whatever day they’re passing through the airport.
Saying that all restaurant concessions must open 7 days a week would be a viewpoint neutral and perfectly valid reason, in my view, for choosing to lease to restaurants other than Chick-fil-A.
Readers may know that I’m in favor of marriage equality. And I think it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to eat their food because of charitable gifts that they make, or statements offered by their executives. However government refusing to lease space because of the political views of the business owners strikes me as troubling.
Meanwhile it’s unfortunate that passengers won’t have the opportunity to stink up the cabin of their outbound flight with that sweet sweet chicken goodness.