Airlines Are Moving Towards Cashless Policies

The next time you're flying on Air Canada, you may need to have a credit card in your hand. Buying a cocktail, getting a pillow or even enjoying in-flight entertainment may require a credit card. If you don't have a credit card, you will find it difficult to get what you need – if not altogether impossible. Canada's largest airline is no longer accepting cash for any of their on-board purchases.

American Airlines and many other airlines have recently gone cashless as well. They have made it so all passengers have to pay for food, alcoholic drinks and duty-free items with a credit card. Those who only brought cash with them will have to go without what they want or need.

Although it may not seem this way, the plastic-only policy was put into place to provide more convenience to those traveling. Passengers who are not from the United States and Canada who don't carry the right kind of currency will find that the plastic-only policy is very helpful. It makes it easier for anyone to get an in-flight pillow or watch a movie that's playing.

Downsides To Not Accepting Cash

There are some downsides to not accepting cash anymore. When airlines made the decision to go cashless, they have taken that choice away from consumers. Consumers now have no choice but to get a credit card if they want to purchase items during a flight. This also means paying interest if the balance isn't paid in full.

Credit card companies already know that you will likely spend more money with a credit card in your hand, too. On average, consumers spend 23% more with a credit card than with cash. This means that since you can use your cash for other things, you may be more willing to buy an extra movie or even a more comfortable pillow just because you have the ability to pay for your purchase later on.

While buying what you need seems like a good plan now, it's not that way when the bill comes. The convenience of paying for the card comes at a price when people get their bill. They forget how much they spent on the flight – if they bothered to look for the total cost at all. As a result, the bill isn't paid in full, interest begins to accrue and more debt is obtained.

There's another risk with going cashless on the flights, too. Identity theft is occurring more and more. It strikes travelers more than any other group of people in the world. It's not the pick pockets people have to worry about. It's the foreign travelers that can hack into information, pull personal details and obtain a credit card number. Next thing you know, all of this information is being shared with people from all over the world.

It's always a good idea to call credit card companies and notify them of you travel plans. This way they can be on the lookout for any atypical travel patterns and stop fraudulent activity before it gets out of hand. When it comes to making purchases during a flight, it is usually very safe. Air Canada uses handheld devices that encrypt the credit card number, providing a secure transaction.

Going Cashless – And What To Do

Going cashless was something that Air Canada and the other airlines didn't have to think hard about. The flight attendants can move through the cabin faster because change doesn't have to be provided. It also makes it easier for airlines to collect all the money – as opposed to worrying about flight attendants stealing any of the funds – which has happened from time to time.

While it may be an inconvenience for some customers, it's a convenience to others. Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Diners Club and Japanese Credit Bureau cards are being accepted on Air Canada for the duty-free purchases. There's also a maximum credit card purchase of $500 allowed for on-board purchases.

There have been discussions about those who are under the age of 18 and those who don't have credit cards. It seems unfair to prevent these groups of people from purchasing what they need on the flights. Air Canada has created a solution for them, too. On-board amenities can be purchased online up to an hour prior to the flight taking off. A code for the purchased items will appear on the boarding pass.


So, when you book a flight on Air Canada, you need to think about on-board amenities ahead of time. You can either bring a credit card with you or purchase your items ahead of time.

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