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

Feb 5, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter

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 ….”

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 photo by Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.