Virgin American's RED where you can order food and drink right at your seat.

Virgin American's RED where you can order food and drink right at your seat.

In an age where almost everyone has an Debit or Credit Card and that airlines are charging for more things on flights than just movies and alcohol, it seems obvious that airlines should be taking credit cards in flight.

Going cashless has many benefits (not having to have cash on the plane, don’t have to ask for change, encourages people to spend more, etc), but some flight attendants are worried what happens if the card reader doesn’t work? And there are concerns that the credit cards will slow down service.

Although airlines that have already implemented the service show there is a learning curve, but once learned, service can actually pick up.

Virgin America probably has the coolest system where you can order items on the entertainment module in the seat back and actually swipe your credit card there.

Current American cashless airlines:
* United Airlines: Since late April
* AirTran
* American Airlines by June 1
* JetBlue
* AirTran
* Southwest Airlines
* Sun country Airlines
* Frontier Airlines
* Alaska Airlines
* USA3000
* MidWest Airlines
* Virgin America
There could be more — there doesn’t seem to be a full list of airlines and I tried to search down as many as I could.

Although the additional charges might be bothersome, at least most airlines are making an effort to make paying them easier.

Image: NotCot.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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yes! this is such a great idea. i almost never carry cash anymore. i got to fly virgin america recently and their system is very slick. i hope more airlines will follow their example.

I too had recently taken a Virgin America flight and their system is very cool. Did not have to wait my turn for the snack cart to come my way. At any point that they had service on the plane I would just put my order in on the screen and pay with my card. A few minutes later the flight attendant brought me my order. Very Cool for us younger types.


Cashless society or electronic money economy is the future.

After I was the victim of debit card fraud ( turns out all someone needs are the numbers off your card and they can sell them to those that make dups and then sell those ) I got rid of my debit card and paid off and got rid of my credit cards. I only pay cash now – as do many others – and I’ll tell you what: Delta has lost a shit load of money from me since I love to drink! I would normally down at least two miniatures on a short domestic flight. That’s $14 down the drain. It’s my understanding that a flight only nets like $100 per, and the mark up on booze is always tremendous. It’s like throwing money down the drain. Where did these guys learn to do business. I have to believe there’s something in it for them from the gov. Forcing us to use the banks cards. Just doesn’t make much sense otherwise. Every debit/credit transaction costs them money. That’s why there usually a minimum charge required.

i love Food and Drinks, i eat a lot of both nutritious and junk foods.~;’

I flew with Virgin America and I can tell you that they are quite good. Sure they letting you use plastic now to buy things. It makes sense doesn’t it? I mean where can you go now adays where it is not accepted. The airlines can make more sales, it takes less man power and no lose change at the end of it. Not to mention that they can keep track of sales better this way.

While credit card payments might be convenient, requiring their use is ridiculous. For one, there are times it’s easier and makes more sense to use cash. I mean, really, a $3 charge? I’ve twice had my credit card put on hold by the card company because of “suspicious” charges that turned to be made on airlines. Sort of a Catch-22: charge for a snack on the way, then have your account frozen on the way back. Those who don’t have credit cards or cards that are accepted could end up very, very hungry these days.

Really cash is not that easy to use on airlines. Flight attendants have no change, so if a passenger does not have the exact $3, then the flight attendants will be having to ask people for change, which is a huge pain. I have had people sitting around me with only cash. It is easy — they give me their cash and I put it on my card. It is easy for a person without access to a credit card to go and get a pre-paid credit card to use on the plane and wherever.

Thing is we are moving to a cashless society slowly, but surely.


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