Innovations and Payment Systems

Some airlines now take only credit cards for in-flight buys

Travelers should make sure their credit card or debit card is among the items they carry on board for flights on AirTran, Spirit and ATA airlines.  Those passengers who get hungry or thirsty when in flight on these airlines will be glad they brought along their plastic.

Passengers will need a credit card or debit card to purchase such items as food, alcoholic beverages, and headsets when they fly with these discount carriers, which now only accept credit cards for purchases made onboard the aircraft.  

AirTran Airway’s website explains that passengers will need a credit card or debit card that bears an American Express, Visa or MasterCard logo in order to quench their thirst for beer, wine or cocktails in flight.  AirTran notes thats it is a “cashless airline and does not accept cash for onboard purchases.”

Meanwhile, Spirit Airlines’ SpiritSnacks treats (including chips, cookies and muffins) are only available to buy via a credit or debit card, as the airline states online that its “service is cashless for your convenience.”

For most regularly scheduled flights on ATA, cardholders can buy audio headsets, blankets and pillows, bottled water, and snacks using any major credit card from ATA’s Sky High Store.  Beer, wine, and liquor is also available — just not with cash.   

Elsewhere, Continental Airlines will still take cash, but now offers travelers the option to buy “Continental Currency” coupons at airport kiosks with a credit card.  These coupons can be used to buy headsets and alcoholic drinks on any Continental, Continental Express, or Continental Micronesia flight for up to one year from the time of purchase.

So if your next trip will be taken on AirTran, Spirit or ATA, having a credit or debit card will allow you to enjoy amenities in-flight that just aren’t available with cash.

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