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Airport to its food and drink vendors: get back to normal hours or face a fine

May 23, 2022
4 min read
Airport to its food and drink vendors: get back to normal hours or face a fine
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It’s been one of the biggest pain points for flyers as air travel has rebounded over the last year. Looking for a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat? There’s a good chance you’ll have to search for a short line or wait in a long one.

Now, though, at least one airport is pushing back.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) has warned its vendors, beginning June 1, they could face penalties if they aren’t open during the hours they’re supposed to be.

Passengers wait for a flight at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Local news station KTVK/KPHO in Phoenix was the first to report the news of the pending crackdown, which TPG confirmed after reviewing city records and video of an airport administration meeting.

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At the public meeting last week, airport officials said, despite passenger traffic largely returning to – and in some cases surpassing – 2019 levels, retailers all too often still have their doors closed.

While this can mean fewer shopping options, the more immediate concern for passengers involves the food and beverage spots. As of last week, the airport reported nearly a quarter of its food and beverage vendors had not yet re-opened from pandemic closures.

Finding a drink or something to eat can be even more challenging depending on where in the airport you go. In Phoenix’s Terminal 3, for instance, the airport says only about two-thirds of its food and beverage vendors are open.

On top of that, anyone who has flown in the last year knows things can be even worse if you have an early morning or late night flight. Well, not anymore – at least that’s what the airport hopes.

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PHX officials have warned the vendors they’re going to be roaming the airport terminals starting next month looking for concessionaires that are not living up to the hours of operation in their contract. They’ll also be using video technology to monitor when vendors’ lights go on and off.

Food and beverage retailers could face a $1,000 fine for not being open; retail shops could face a $100 fine for contractual violations. Restaurants could also face violations for not returning to full menus that offer accommodations for passengers with dietary restrictions.

The reason these problems exist, airport officials say, is probably one you’re familiar with at this point: staffing challenges. The problems have plagued industries across the country during the pandemic. And Phoenix is far from the only airport impacted.

Just last week, I was waiting on a flight in the E-concourse at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, and a key breakfast spot was closed. Such closures inevitably mean foot traffic then stacks up at nearby locations – the line at the closest Starbucks was a non-starter for me.

Related: Avoiding long lines during your travels

In Chicago, for instance, as of April, 8% of food and beverage spots at O’Hare International Airport (ORD) remained closed, along with a tenth of those at Midway (MDW), according to numbers city aviation officials shared with TPG, while noting some airport concessionaires were “facing challenges in recruiting employees.”

Related: Starbucks continues rollout of mobile ordering at US airports

As so many businesses have seen, it’s not an easy task. It’s harder at airports, Phoenix officials pointed out, mentioning how airport restaurants often have similar wages to businesses out in the community, but with additional challenges in parking, getting a badge and going through security each day.

Customers wait in a long line for McDonald's at an airport in 2021. (Photo by Edward Pizzarello/PizzaInMotion.com)

At the same time, ahead of a busy summer travel season, Phoenix Sky Harbor is now making clear, it expects these vendors to live up to their contracted hours of operation.

Featured image by The interior of the rebuilt Terminal 3 North Concourse at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. (Image courtesy of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Go to review

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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more