United Tries Cashless Cabin

By Andrew Compart

Another carrier is removing cash as an option for onboard purchases, but not for all of its flights.

United, beginning march 23, will allow customers to use credit and debit cards for the purchases, and will phase out the cash option though the spring for flights within the U.S. and to and from Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

It will continue to accept cash on flights to and from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Credit and debit cards also will be accepted on those flights. One factor in the decision to continue to offer a cash option on those flights is a lower rate of credit card usage in some of the countries, a United spokesman said.

United Express customers will continue to pay solely in cash. United is working with its regional partners to determine how to standardize credit card procedures.

“Ultimately, our goal is to move to a fully cashless environment systemwide,” the United spokesman said. In the interim, to try to avoid customer confusion, the airline has instructed gate agents to make announcements letting customers know when a flight is cashless.

Airlines are attracted to cashless because it simplifies the operation and avoids the need to have attendants carry and collect cash and make change. Other airlines that have gone cashless include AirTran, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Midwest, Southwest and Virgin America. American will begin the transition to cashless cabins this summer on flights within the U.S. and to Canada.

Photo: Joseph Pries

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