San Antonio Airport Caves, But Now Chick-fil-A Is Unwilling To Open There

San Antonio banned Chick-fil-A from opening in its airport, because of the restaurant chain’s history of making donations to anti-LGBTQ causes. The problem with this move is,

  • Like most airports in the U.S. (but not across the world) the San Antonio airport is a government body, and this is viewpoint-specific discrimination. That’s a first amendment problem.

  • The first amendment violation runs afoul of covenants the airport enters into in exchange for federal grant money.

The city council didn’t much care about the constitutional issue. They were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees tying that up in the courts. But when the FAA came calling on the grant issue the city started discussions about opening a Chick-fil-A in the airport after all.

In the end though the city is going to get its way – no Chick-fil-A in the airport – but not because they’re expressing equality principles (they caved on those) but because Chick-fil-A said buzz off.

“We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service.” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants.”

Who needs revenue licensing a location at the San Antonio airport? They’re a $4 billion (revenue) company and this isn’t Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, or Newark.

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, 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. In regards to your last point, there are definitely smaller airports that have a CFA in it. For example, Birmingham, AL has one, and, as you would expect, it has the longest line in the airport (which surprisingly has a ton of restaurants).

  2. @HT – my point is it’s a rounding error, not that they don’t pursue small opportunities just that they don’t have to after having been so unwelcome

  3. Good. The hate merchants can bugger-off, and take their lousy sandwiches with them. Give the space to people with true Christian spirit ( regardless of their religion or lack of it) and keep the loony fringe, faux-Christians out.

  4. “Viewpoint-specific discrimination”? What a joke.

    So if my view is that Black people are inferior and I pay to causes that agree with me the government should not ban me from spreading this hate by having a restaurant at their property that funds these causes?

  5. The reality is this company saw the writing on the wall and are cutting their losses—otherwise they’d forge ahead. The state of Texas can jam Chik-Fil-A down the throats of the city of San Antonio and it’s City Council by force by allowing it in the airport but they can’t force airport patrons to eat there. The San Antonio city council members are elected and are a reflection of the city‘s citizens and its values—at least theoretically. If not, I’m sure someone will try to replace them.
    The State of Texas is all about local control unless it runs afoul of their ‘republican values’ or whatever this is that comes out of Austin. The problems Harris County (which includes Houston) has had keeping its citizens alive during the pandemic and the current state government illustrate that well: The State of Texas is all about local control as long as it’s Republican local control. Otherwise expect the ‘jack booted thugs’ from Austin to come in and control things.

  6. Interesting that “Paolo,” whose name presumably derives ultimately from the apostle Paul, does not reflect the sentiment that Paul himself (among other biblical authors) articulated repeatedly (e.g., Romans 1:24-32; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). Perhaps the apostle Paul lacked the “Christian spirit” that Paolo evidently possesses.

    (The original) Paul manifestly laid out a robust theology of love, forgiveness, and grace but simultaneously recognized that libertine abandonment of any moral standards replaces one error with another; he lived in a Greco-Roman society that did just that, so one would assume he knew of which he spoke. The hallmark of his magnum opus, Romans, is its thesis of grace through faith apart from works, but it is noteworthy that the first and last few chapters of the very same book emphasizes the necessity of righteous behavior, which is objectively defined, explicitly not subjectively do-whatever-feels-right-to-you in practice. It’s very convenient to pick and choose, buffet-style, the parts of the Bible we like and ignore those that are inconvenient, thus creating a skewed and intellectually dishonest version of “Christian spirit.” Thankfully, we have the modern-day theologian Paolo to advise us which elements of truth we can ignore.

  7. @Houstonian, let’s stay in the world of facts, not fantasy. Chick Fil As have proven to be wildly popular in other airports, and flyers deserve the ability to buy what they want with their own money.

    Your contention that Republicans “jam” Chick Fil A down people’s throats is ignorant of reality.

  8. @William – Actually…. Yes. That’s how the First Amendment works. For good and ill.

    Personally – I’d rather have it that way, then allowing governments to pick and choose based on their specific ideologies, which vary greatly from state to state, and town to town.

  9. Chick Fil A and Popeyes turn a profit just through airport employees eating there. I’m sure other establishments at SAT are pretty happy they’re not coming.

  10. Good for CFA. And comments suggesting no one would eat there because it would be ‘jammed down’ peoples’ throats are ignorant. SAT needs CFA more than CFA needs SAT.

  11. Paolo – you sound like the hate merchant.or at least a bigot.. I guess anyone that does not believe what you believe must be cancelled, but then again that did not work so well in Germany. The city of San Antonio and SAT was in the wrong and they knew it. As a former longtime resident of San Antonio, I’m still boycotting SAT and it sounds like the restaurant is as well. As for William talking about blacks and restaurant harrassment – the recent arrests of BLM protesters caught harrassing restaurant patrons gives us a picture of just who has been harrassing who.

  12. @Gary Leff – Fair point. You’re right in that given how wildly successful they are, they can be picky and don’t need the money. Thanks!

  13. The airports should really have focused on one fact alone in regards to Chick-fil-A. They are not open on one of the busiest travel days of the week. The airport board has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize airport profits – being closed on a busy day does not accomplish this.

  14. Most of the world’s problems would disappear if people stopped believing in religion. They foolishly think one religion is better than another and spend their time hating on others and have other horribly outdated view points.

    In is 2020 and not the 1400s grow up and stop living in an imaginary world.


  15. I wish people didn’t feel it was necessary to apply a viewpoint filter to buy a chicken sandwich. (Or to buy a pint of ice cream, on the other side of the political spectrum.) Saddling small-scale commercial transactions with this sort of ideological baggage is a real contributor to polarization in this country.

  16. @RT. Spoken by someone who neither has the understanding of religion nor the wisdom to use it.
    Good for CFA. What RT May have been implying is that if we didn’t comprise our standards, morals, hearts and minds, then “the world‘s problems would disappear.”
    BTW, if USA wanted to do Wuhan virus testing rapidly they would contract with CFA . . . It would be done in a week.

  17. @Chris – Other airports have discovered Chick-Fil-A produces more revenue for the airport in it’s six days of operations than other like-sized restaurants produce in seven days of operations.

  18. Good for CLA. The comment that the city council is reflective of the citizens just isn’t true. I live outside of a Seattle. All nine city council members have voted to defund the police. My that analogy, everyone living within the boundaries of Seattle wasn’t the police gone. The sad thing is that the minority community will suffer most as they are preyed upon. How did the Mayors summer of of love work out? Two dead teenagers and millions in property damage. I no longer go to Seattle or would take visitors there. Who loses? I think the city will miss my money more than I will miss the trash, feces, homeless camped on most corners, boarded up buildings and angry “activist.”
    Recently saw a video of three young white girls scrubbing “BLM” off the Federal courthouse. A black women pulls up in her car and ask what they are doing. They respond, cleaning up my city. She counters that they must not believe in black lives and she is disgusted with their actions. My response would be, “ here let me spray paint BLM on your car if you are so committed to hour cause.

  19. @Houstonian in a prior post on this subject you referred to Chick fil A’s “discriminatory practices”, in the plural. I asked if you could give us some examples of these “discriminatory practices”? In your comments here you do not mention any “discriminatory practices” by the company, so we will assume you couldn’t find any.

  20. @RT says: “Most of the world’s problems would disappear if people stopped believing in religion.”

    Do you have any evidence for this contra-factual?

  21. The equality argument makes no sense. Do they really expect people with traditional family values/Christian values to view lgbt values as equal or the same. It’s illogical and simpleminded to think so.

    Christians/people who respect traditional family values that are the basis for civilization shouldn’t have to bow down to causes they don’t support in order to get government approval to do anything.

  22. Airport takes share of restaurant’s revenue so it’s definitely SAT needs CFA more than CFA wants to open in SAT.
    Stupidity of SAT executives caused huge loss to SAT.

  23. all airports should have food service by LOCAL family restaurants. NOT Corporate publicly traded ones. FAA needs to and the Airports need to make it so that FORCED buys buy from local sellers and not Delaware North or Aramark GoLocal or GoHome! some will say that these are locally owned franchise places….. key word is “Franchise” where the corporate License take a % of sales regardless if you make a profit at the end of the day or not. Your labor costs, overhead costs and admin costs can exceed revenue in a day because no one shows up to the airport (like during covid or snow storm, etc) but Corporate still takes their % off the top .

  24. @Jackson Henderson
    Arrant nonsense. It’s not the LGBT community undermining the ‘basis of civilisation’ ( they impinge on no one’s rights or liberties), but rather the knuckle-dragging neanderthals of the new right, including these fake Christians, evangelicals, alt right, militia/NRA types, determined as they are to recreate the world in their own image. They represent the very worst of America, threatening the very ideals that made it great: equity, inclusivity, diversity, freedom, etc.
    The chicken people bought into this by using profits to fund hate groups. They should be banned from all public space.

  25. @paolo

    Actually the lgbt community pushes for people to be fired from their jobs because they don’t worship the lgbt viewpoint. The lgbt community supports forcing schools to require lgbt propaganda in the curriculum. That sounds a lot like impinging on freedom and liberty. It’s the New Right/Alt Right/Real Christians/Conservatives that support religious freedom, while LGBT opposes religious freedom and seeks to persecute those who don’t agree with their views and values. Where is the diversity in thought and acceptance of differing views?

    What made America great is having religious freedom, economic freedom, personal freedom, and free speech. Government limiting a company for its speech is not what America is supposed to be. The 1st Amendment was made for a reason. It should be up to legitimate citizens and legitimate tourists to decide what businesses they will patronize.

  26. This was nothing more than the cancel culture of the left. Its despicable that these politicians interfered in business like this. If people have issue with a company they can simply choose to not patronize it.

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