The Weird Conclusion To Chick-Fil-A's Latest Airport Drama

You know the saying, "You only want what you can't have?" Well, it seems to apply to Chick-fil-A, which was all set in early 2019 to open a restaurant at San Antonio International Airport. Then the San Antonio City Council voted to ban the chicken chain from the airport. To make a long story short, the state of Texas complained, and San Antonio changed its mind and decided earlier this year to offer an airport lease to Chick-fil-A after all. Now, the third-biggest quick-service restaurant company in the U.S. (via QSR) is politely declining the offer (via SFGate).

Travelers flying in from Boston might be curious to try the chain's popular chicken sandwich at San Antonio's airport since Boston doesn't have a Chick-fil-A (via WCVB). Locals, however, shouldn't miss an airport Chick-fil-A too much. It seems like Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A is to San Antonio what Starbucks is to Seattle: "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," the chain's corporate office said.

Chick-fil-A added that it is "always evaluating potential new locations," and airports probably look a lot less appealing than they did in 2019. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps track of daily airport traffic. Right now, the number of people going through security at airports is less than a third of what it was a year ago.

San Antonio banned Chick-fil-A from the airport due to anti-LGBTQ stand

Chick-fil-A's San Antonio airport drama started in March 2019, when the City Council voted to ban the chain from the airport. Council members cited Chick-fil-A's financial support of anti-LGBTQ organizations as the reason for the ban. That same month, Think Progress reported that Chick-fil-A had donated $1.65 million in one year to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and another $150,000 to the Salvation Army. Both organizations oppose same-sex marriage and relationships. "We do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior," San Antonio City Council member Roberto TreviƱo said at the time (via KSAT).

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cried foul (fowl?) however, saying the city couldn't ban Chick-fil-A because its fundraising decisions were rooted in the owning family's Christian beliefs. The ban would suppress freedom of religion, Paxton argued, which is protected by the First Amendment and federal law. The attorney general asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate.

The FAA and the city of San Antonio reached an agreement instead: San Antonio would offer Chick-fil-A the airport lease after all. The city said it changed its mind because Chick-fil-A had announced it was no longer donating to the two anti-LGBTQ organizations. Then came the kicker: Chick-fil-A thought better of opening a new franchise inside an airport that looks a lot emptier in 2020.