Effective August 5, Alaska Airlines will become the latest carrier to go cashless for in-flight purchases such as headphones, cocktails and snacks.Other carriers where you can bring all the money you want, but your cash is no good include Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, AirTran, Virgin American and Midwest Airlines.
The "cashless cabin" is fast becoming the norm as more goods are sold in-flight and the hassles grow for making exact change, said Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation consultant. "Flight attendants practically have to walk on with a cash drawer," he said.
Northwest Airlines still accepts cash only for purchases on domestic flights. Delta and American airlines accept cash and credit cards, representatives said. US Airways currently accepts cash only for onboard purchases.
Going cashless won't significantly change airlines' profits for better or worse; in-flight sales account for a small slice of airlines' profits, Boyd said. Switching to credit card-only may boost sales slightly, since people tend to spend more with credit cards, he said. But the primary benefit will be saving time on making change and accounting for cash transactions.
Visa is in talks with other airlines to go cashless, said Paul Wilke, a company spokesman. "It's a win-win for both. It gives travelers the convenience of not having to have cash on them, and flight attendants don't have to worry about counting cash, having change on hand," Wilke said.
Airlines already use handheld credit card swipers for duty-free shopping on international flights. Those devices let attendants make quick, seamless transactions even in a darkened cabin when people are sleeping, he said.