San Antonio Airport Gives In, Will Welcome Chick-Fil-A Despite Past Support For Anti-LGBTQ Causes

San Antonio airport was at the forefront of a nationwide trend to ban Chick-Fil-A over its political beliefs. This almost certainly violates the chain’s first amendment rights and is impermissible for a government-owned and run airport.

While it would be permissible for an airport to have a policy that all of its food outlets must be open 7 days a week – there is limited space in the airport and they need to use it to feed passengers, especially on busy Sunday – statements made advancing Chick-Fil-A bans have clearly indicated the decision is made on the basis of animus towards the chain’s past support of charities which are inconsistent with LGBTQ equality. The former is viewpoint neutral, the latter is not. (Countering Chick-Fil-A with government-sponsored airport speech is a separate issue entirely.)

While a Texas court last month threw out a lawsuit filed by activists against the city on standing grounds, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Department of Transportation has responded to the state’s complaint indicating San Antonio has agreed to allow Chick-Fil-A to locate at the airport.

Presumably the FAA found the airport in violation of grant covenants by presumptively violating the first amendment, selecting vendors on the basis of political viewpoint. Principles matter, until they cost something it seems.

Readers may know that I’m in favor of marriage equality. However this is a pretty bizarre, and not just illegal, way to take a stand on an issue.

Deals for Chick-Fil-As in airports won’t even be with Chick-Fil-A. Chick-FIl-A won’t operate the restaurants. Airport restaurants are generally run by concessions companies like Delaware North and OTG and not the companies associated with the brands you know, although of course Chick-Fil-A would have earned licensing revenue from the deals.

Personally I think if we’re going to have controversies over chicken sandwiches we might as well get even better chicken sandwiches out of the deal. Austin’s airport has Flyrite Chicken Sandwiches.

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.

Update: the city disputes the Texas attorney general’s characterization that they lost. They appear to be saying ‘The FAA isn’t making us do it, we’re doing it ourselves. Chick-Fil-A changed, not us! But the attorney general’s pointing out we lost paints us in a corner we’re we might have to drag our feet.’ So I’d characterize this as ‘developing’.

The FAA has not ordered the City of San Antonio to have Chick-Fil-A at its airport. The City itself offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally following Chick-Fil-A’s publicly stated change-of-position on its charitable giving policy. The City maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-Fil-A. Any placement of Chick-Fil-A at the San Antonio Airport is ultimately contingent on Chick-Fil-A’s continued interest and approval by the City Council.

Attorney General Paxton’s inaccurate statements on this issue are not surprising given that neither he nor the State of Texas have been involved in the conversations between the City and the FAA. Unfortunately, and ironically, AG Paxton’s false declaration of victory significantly jeopardizes the potential for a mutually beneficial and amicable resolution.

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. Chick fil a is a great company with great good. We shouldn’t shame them because they are pro Christian. If you are anti Christian, just don’t spend your money there.

  2. As long as they are open on Sundays at the airport, they should be allowed there. People who aren’t as adherent to Christian practices travel on Sunday and having a venue closed means one less option in a highly regulated location to get food.

    Otherwise, they should have a restaurant or food provider that is willing to serve the public on Sunday.

  3. @ John — Pro-Christian does not equal anti-gay. Shame on the management of Chick-fil-A for being hypocrites, hating people under the veil of Christianity.

  4. Totally agree.Keep politics out of airport businesses. The pc police and liberal activities are ruining this country.

  5. I am a Christian, however I will never support the restaurant as it is anti gay. There are plenty of other choices at the airport and elsewhere.

  6. It should be the opposite. San Antonio should welcome Chick-Fil-A because its founder used to have backbone and stand up for Christian beliefs and champion the traditional family structure.

  7. This article ignores the most important thing of all. That passengers love Chick-Fil-A. Take a look just up the road at Dallas Love Field. Chick-Fil-A is the busiest concession by far!

    By banning Chick-Fil-A, airport bureaucrats substituted their prejudices for customer demand. To get these fatheads out of the decision-making calculus sell the right to concessions. Let passengers decide.

  8. @Ian

    Is it anti-gay to support traditional family values and recognize gays are born not normal? Is it anti gay if real christians don’t celebrate lgbt given that it should not be something to celebrate; do you celebrate that people are born blind or deaf?

  9. @ Jackson

    Yes, as a Christian I celebrate people who are born blind or deaf, as I do all of God’s children. Diversity is God’s creation – and people who don’t get that aren’t paying attention, let alone Christians.

  10. “Chick-FIl-A won’t operate the restaurants. Airport restaurants are generally run by concessions companies like Delaware North and OTG and not the companies associated with the brands you know”

    And that is the problem with a lot of airport food. These other companies hire less skilled people and the food quality/service definitely suffers.

  11. I think Chick Fil A food is nothing more than adequate, but I fully accept that I am in the minority on that opinion But unless the airport is really small and has very limited options I can’t see being closed on Sunday being a deal breaker. Heck they put a Chick Fil A in Mercedes Benz Stadium where the Falcons play–most often on Sundays.

  12. I tried a chick fil a grilled chicken sandwich in an airport once years ago as I was rushing to catch my flight.It was the worst chicken sandwich I have ever eaten dry as sandpaper, tough like leather ,gamey and well just foul.I spit out the one bite I had in the garbage and tossed the rest out. I regret stepping into the brand for so many reasons religion ,bigotry awful food etc
    However the worst regret was the disgusting nasty food that makes other crappy fast food brands look like heroes
    I’m told the fried chicken sandwich is the one they do well.It doesn’t matter I won’t be back under any circumstances and apparently they couldn’t care less which makes us equal 😉

  13. Let’s call it for what it it flat out discriminations (and in this case attempted retribution) for the legal business policies of a business. The city of San Antonio government structure is all in for these sort of provocative policies. We don’t need a gang of two bit overreaching bureaucrats telling us what and where we can eat. To do so robs the traveling public of the DIVERSITY being foisted albeit in this case in food and beverage choice. I will guarantee is this was a BLM business with any sort of anti-White policy they would fall all over themselves to accommodate them. If an individual person does not like the hours a business chooses to operate, then don’t patronize them.

  14. Politicizing food-now that a sign that way too many people have way too much time on their hands. I expect to be able to eat whatever I want from whomever I want. And I happen to like ChickFilA. All you food politicizers go jump off a high bridge. It’ll be appreciated by the majority of us.

  15. @UA-NYC You do make me laugh. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You spread your bigotry in the comments of the travel blogs 100x more than Jackson does. The difference is that the rest of us feel no need to follow you around and call you out on it.

    We’ve learned to just scroll past your comments, much as we just stroll past Chick Fil A. We feel no need to attack either one.

    @Gary When you included the line “I’m in favor of marriage equality” as some one-line badge-of-honor, I thought that was pretty stupid. Now that I read the bigotry in the comments, I understand why you needed to preempt the predictable attacks.

  16. Carry on all you want but people are voting with their dollars and there’s no denying Chick-Fil-A is hugely popular. If you have an issue with them then don’t go. It’s that simple. We’re tired of hearing about all of your grievances in an imperfect world.

  17. From everything I have read, Chik Fil A has more sales volume in 6 days than other fast food chains in airport have in 7 days. So not being open one day a week doesn’t really hurt the airport’s bottom line.

  18. While I’m in no way in favor of Chik Fil A’s bigotry, to the best of my knowledge their views are not technically illegal. OTOH if an airport wants to require a company to be open on certain days, that’s their business. The company can then determine whether they choose to accept the business requirements. That’s the American way.

  19. Supporting diversity means supporting even those you disagree with – it’s not a one way street. Let the customers decide if the fail or succeed.

  20. My main airport is Houston Hobby where there is a Chik-Fil-A. I don’t eat there. I’ve had their chicken before using free coupons they send me from time to time at a local store—it’s fine but I prefer Popeyes if I am going to eat that type of food. They could probably makes as much money with Whataburger which is tons better.
    These days a lot of airport concessions are closed. This Chik-Fil-A is the only food concession where one can get a meal in the new part of Hobby airport open in the later evening when I tend to fly out. I know I need to either eat before I come to the airport or allow extra time to go to another part of the airport to eat.
    I always think that the Houston Airport System thinks less of gay people like me by allowing vendors with reputations like Chik-Fil-A to open up shop at one of their airports. I think less of cities that allow vendors with discriminatory reputations open up on public property. It makes me think that either they’ve been either seduced by the money and/or they agree with these discriminatory practices. Personally I think San Antonio has sold out to either the almighty $$$ or to pressure groups—more likely the latter. This is my personal opinion that is obviously not shared by others. However, I know there are others that share my opinion.

  21. @Joseph N – apparently you don’t have the intelligence & reading comprehension to differentiate posts that criticize a corrupt, demagogue president vs. those that are all out racist & bigoted against People of Color or the LGBTQ community.

    @”dee” – clearly you are “dot” posting under a different name…the exact same writing style is pretty transparent

    Hopefully the “basket of deplorables” that has somehow found this blog in the past couple years high-tails it back to Reddit & QAnon worship sites post-election.

  22. The Federalist-
    Chick-fil-A Donated To Anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center
    NOVEMBER 27, 2019 By Tristan Justice

    “Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, it has donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America. Anyone who opposes the SPLC…is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation,”

  23. PJ Media-
    100 Rabbis: The SPLC Makes Life More Dangerous for Jews by Covering for Radical Islam

    BY TYLER O’NEIL SEP 08, 2020

    The SPLC also overlooks “groups which ally with international terror organizations, openly glorify murder under the guise of ‘resistance,’ and frequently descend into clearly anti-Semitic expression,” the rabbis warned. “The SPLC specifically avoids identifying radical Islamic groups as the leading source of modern-day anti-Semitic violence.”

  24. @ackson Henderson Founder used to have backbone and stand up for Christian beliefs and champion the traditional family structure.” I am not sure what country you are from but in the Unites States of America there is this thing call Separation of Church and State that Roger Williams set up when he moved to Rhode Island. If you want to live by “traditional family structure” that is your choice. Keep your wife at home to clean the house and make babies for you like she should according to the churches teachings, She needs to keep her mouth shut as only a real man can make decisions and only he can work out of the house. Your kids and you need to attend church all day on sunday, no shrimp, no lobster, no mixed fabrics and NO football on sundays. when your daughter has sex outside of marriage then I will be the first in line to stone her to death with you. This is why Chick bigot crap should not be allowed on any public property where everyone else in the USA does not have to follow your god’s rules

  25. Nobody cares that you are gay and there are no bad people sneaking around in the dark to harm you.

    It’s just chicken, well and the freedom to express your opinion

  26. @Houstonian says: “It makes me think that either they’ve been either seduced by the money and/or they agree with these discriminatory practices.”

    @Houstonian, can you give us an example of the “discriminatory practices” to which you refer? Maybe just two or three of these practices. The big ones.

    On a different topic, my neighborhood had a coffee shop which went under and the space went to a new coffee shop and wine bar which is much better and much loved int he neighborhood. And it’s run by an Orthodox Jew and therefore it’s closed on Saturdays. In fact it’s closed Friday night too. So the owner is giving up his two most valuable time slots … for what?

    For God.

    That’s a noble sacrifice in my opinion.

    And I guess I’m not alone in thinking that, because chatting about it with neighbors I find that the owner has gained the respect of a highly secular neighborhood of New York.

  27. @Sean – Do a little checking. While there’s a plethora of Chik Fil A reports showing their misogynistic bigotry, my personal favorite is the female manager who was asked why she wasn’t home taking care of her husband and pumping out babies instead of working there.

  28. I don’t eat at CFA because the line is usually long and my time is valuable. It’s still just a mass produced chicken sandwich… Even if the money flows up to bigots.

  29. @Jame M – Thanks for flagging!

    It doesn’t appear Paxton was wrong, this is the city saying ‘The FAA isn’t making us do it, we’re doing it ourselves. Chick-Fil-A changed, not us! But Paxton’s pointing out we lost paints us in a corner we’re we might have to drag our feet.’

    So I’d characterize that as ‘developing’.

  30. (Mostly Democrat) chicken haters still gonna hate, but here is hoping that SAT comes to its senses without a $3 billion dollar lawsuit like the Democrats caused in Seattle over their bad decisions. However, it seems like the city still wants a lawsuit and is not budging, so be prepared to pay out big time San Antonio taxpayers. On the bright side, at least the chicken hating did not evolve into burning, looting and murder, like BLM protests, or turn into behavior straight outta Compton, like the Defund the Police protests. I give the Democrat chicken mob credit for showing restraint in not toppling chicken billboards, burning chicken houses or stealing chickens.

  31. DFWSteve – I think you are a poser. A real racist would send blacks (a group with elevated risk for COVID-19) out to protest during a pandemic, would burn cities where urban blacks live (high particulate matter from smoke elevates risk for catching/dying of COVID-19) and loot black stores and kill blacks, like David Dorn, trying to protect businesses. A real bigot would harass diners at restaurants and people leaving the White House who may not share their opinions. Come on man, have you really been doing any of those things?.

  32. @Christian:

    @Houstonian referred to Chick fil A’s “discriminatory practices”. And I asked him for an example.

    You mention a story about an employee who “was asked” (by a customer? her sister? a colleague? her boss?) an inappropriate question. And you addressed your comment to me.

    I’m guessing that means you are interested in my discussion with Houstonian? In that case, I’ll ask you the same question he failed to answer in case you have any insights:

    “can you give us an example of the “discriminatory practices” to which [Houstonian] refer[s]? Maybe just two or three of these practices. The big ones.”

    If you’re not clear on the subject of what constitutes a “discriminatory practice” I’ll be happy to send you links to briefs describing claims of discriminatory practices, from racial, disability, religious, sex and sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits against the New York Times, CNN, NBC, Facebook, Google, Delta, AA, United, Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, the Democratic National Committee or any number of the many companies you no doubt boycott and which the San Antonio city council surely blocks from their airport.

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