Why Another Airport Decided To Remove Chick-Fil-A From Its Future Dining Options

When the Kansas City International Airport opens its new single terminal in 2023, it is promising to deliver accessibility for those who might otherwise struggle to have a positive travel experience (via Visit KC). Contractors are adding visual paging boards that will allow the hearing impaired to read important information such as flight changes. They are building a simulation room to help passengers who are blind navigate the planes. It even promises to have both gender-neutral and gendered bathroom facilities, adult changing rooms, and private breastfeeding areas. The new terminal will also offer areas for service animals to relieve themselves (via The Beacon).

But what the new terminal won't have is a Chick-fil-A. The popular fast food chain might have been named the country's top fast food restaurant for the seventh year in a row by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, but it was dropped from consideration for the new terminal due to opposition from those who believe the chain is not inclusive, reports Fox Business

The fast food chicken franchise has a reputation for its past support of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, which have opposed same-sex marriage, among other issues (via Insider). Gay-rights advocates like Justin Short, who sits on Kansas City's LGBTQ Commission, told Fox Business it is important that Chick-fil-A not have a presence at the new airport terminal because "for the past six to eight months we've been putting out these inclusivity talking points, about having the most progressive airport in the country, and now we're throwing Chick-fil-A in there. You know you can't do both."

Chick-fil-A has stayed true to its faith-based roots

Fast food restaurants are often love 'em or hate 'em propositions, with their share of mega fans and rabid opponents; but even in this contentious space, Chick-fil-A attracts more criticism than its peers because of the causes that its owners and members of senior management have either funded or supported. The chain was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a devout Christian who has been clear on where he stands when it comes to mixing business and religion. "We don't expect every operator to be Christian but we tell them we do expect them to operate on Christian principles," Cathy told the New York Times in a 1996 interview. 

Cathy's link to his faith is so deeply intertwined with Chick-fil-A's corporate values that Insider says he reportedly made his children promise that, no matter how successful the company became, it would never go public. As he put it in his New York Times interview, "I'd be resentful if shareholders who don't know the business tried to tell me what to do." 

Why Chick-fil-A attracts controversy

The restaurant chain's religious foundation is especially controversial because it has donated to conservative groups that are known for their opposition toward the LGBTQ+ community in the past. This controversy is also somewhat complicated. Facing backlash, Chick-fil-A announced in 2012 that it would no longer donate to most of these organization. However, according to Insider, donations were still made to some organizations, including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which were known for their opposition to LBGTQ+ issues, including same-sex marriage.

In November 2019, Chick-Fil-A said it would cease to donate money to those organizations as well. However, in July of 2021, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy was called out over personal donations to the National Christian Charitable Foundation. This group gives money to organizations fighting against the Equality Act, which is legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people (via Daily Beast).

Chick-fil-A has had problems like this before

This isn't the first time Chick-fil-A has had a wrench thrown into its expansion plans. In 2019, the San Antonio, Texas City Council voted to reject Chick-fil-A's bid to open a restaurant at the San Antonio Airport. San Antonio eventually lifted the ban, but Chick-fil-A ultimately declined the offer to take up the spot (via Fox Business). The chain has also been the subject of scrutiny from New York Democrats, who pushed for Chick-fil-A to be kept out of rest stops in the state.

Even so, the chain does have a solid fan following, among them South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who once famously tweeted he would "go to war" for Chick-fil-A after students and faculty members tried to get it banned from the University of Notre Dame's campus. And while we don't know if Graham has the pull to get the restaurant into the planned Kansas City terminal, we're pretty certain this isn't the end of Chick-fil-A's airport saga.