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Getting your Starbucks fix before your next flight is getting 'a latte' more difficult

Feb. 05, 2020
3 min read
Getting your Starbucks fix before your next flight is getting 'a latte' more difficult
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We hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but getting your Starbucks fix before your flight is about to get a latte more difficult.

The operator of 400 Starbucks locations throughout the country, HMS Host, has ended its agreement with the international coffee chain, according to Skift. The concession company has been the only one to partner with Starbucks at U.S. airports for almost three decades. In the past, many airports chose to work with HMS Host because of Starbucks' clout — but today, it's shaping up to be a different story.

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Since many U.S. airports are run by governments — whether city, county or state — they're focusing more on bringing local coffee companies to airport concourses, rather than big, national chains. Take, for example, Chicago Midway (MDW) and Austin (AUS), two major U.S. airports that don't have any Starbucks outposts. Instead, the former serves Big Shoulders Coffee, roasted in Illinois, and the latter serves Austin Java, among others.

Related: Would you eat at an airport even if you aren't flying? New Orleans is betting yes

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is another example. Back in 2017, the airport filed a proposal stating it is "committed to the participation of local owners featuring local concepts in its concession opportunities" and, as a result, "SFO’s food and beverage program is largely local ...."

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While you may have a harder time collecting those coveted bonus stars, don't be totally despresso about your Starbucks (or lack thereof) just yet. Since a lot of these locations have 10-year agreements with their respective airports, they're not going to close for quite some time. Plus, "concession companies [such as OTG or SSP America] will now be free to bid for Starbucks airport locations," Skift added.

So, your favorite airport Starbucks could survive the transition — it may just be operated by a different company. Spokesperson Jory Mendes told TPG on a phone call that, while HMS Host is no longer the exclusive industry partner, they will continue to do business together. They're also looking into alternatives with different operators, as well.

Here's how it works: Each concession company makes agreements with either a local or national brand, and then they compete against each other to operate those stores on their behalf. Since the airports typically award these bids as large groups rather than one-offs, a concession company usually ends up operating all of the stores in a concourse or terminal.

Related: The best credit cards to use at Starbucks

We asked for more clarification (read: to find out what airport Starbucks locations could close so we can plan our early morning flights accordingly). But Starbucks could not, unfortunately, elaborate on which locations are expected to close.

HMS Host is planning to work with "emerging coffee brands" as well as some new concepts, including "innovative mobile cards that move from gate to gate" and "coffee shops built for speed" Skift reported. So, while you might not see as many Starbucks along your travels, you might just find your new coffee shop brewing along the way.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023