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Plastic-Only Is A Policy More Airlines Are Adopting

September 6, 2012 by CreditCardsCo™

When you take a flight to anywhere on virtually any airline, they charge you for all of the amenities that you love to have. If you want earphones, a pillow, a blanket or even a cocktail, forget about having any cash in your pocket. Instead, they are going to ask you for a credit card.

Many of the airlines are no longer accepting cash for any of the onboard purchases. American Airlines was the first to go cashless on their duty-free airlines. Now food and alcoholic drinks require a credit card as well. Since American Airlines went cash-free, a number of other airlines quickly followed.

Air Canada's plastic-only policy was intended to provide more convenience for passengers. This includes many non-North Americans as they do not carry US or Canadian currency. With the plastic-only policy in place, it allows those traveling from other countries the ability to purchase an in-flight pillow or other amenity to enjoy the flight more.

When items are charged to a credit card, it is also easier and safer. Air Canada has commented that it allows their flight attendants to service passengers faster. There's no need to make change, which keeps the paths clear through the plane. Passengers can then make it to the lavatory easier. It also ensures that the flight attendants stay honest because no cash is exchanged.

Not everyone is happy about the plastic-only policy, however. Many jetsetters don't see the policy as a benefit. The decision to pay cash for an in-flight purchase is no longer available. That choice is gone, so passengers must put the purchase on a credit card or do without. As many travelers don't want to go into debt with little purchases and don't wish to use a debit card outside of their home country, the airlines aren't making as much money as they could. It is a financial decision they've had to make in order to increase the convenience.

When you spend on credit, you are likely to spend about 23% more than you would if you were purchasing in cash. This means that you may be more likely to buy a drink, an in-flight snack or something else since you have your card out. If you just had cash, you'd keep your spending in check more. While the credit card companies are aware of this statistic, not as many cardholders are. This means that credit cards aren't exactly the more convenient option if you're going to be overspending on them.

Overspending isn't the only risk of going cashless during a flight. Countless travelers experience identity theft every single year. It's not about getting a few hundred dollars stolen while you're walking through the airport. Instead, it's about a foreign traveler accessing your personal information. This credit card information has now been spread to other parts of the world.

To avoid identity theft and problems with your information getting to other parts of the world, it's a good idea to notify your credit card companies when you travel. You can talk to a customer service representative and have them put notes on your account as to where you will be traveling. This way, if charges show up in parts of the world that you aren't traveling to, your account can be flagged. Since most cards have identity theft protection of some form, this phone call can save you a lot of problems down the road.

When you purchase in-flight, you typically don't have to worry about identity theft, however. Air Canada uses encrypted handheld devices for all purchases. The credit card payments are recorded in a secure and encrypted manner to ensure no one is able to access your personal information.

There is a maximum credit card purchase allowed onboard Air Canada flights. Right now, no passenger can spend more than $500 per flight. The only cards that are accepted for duty-free purchases include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Japanese Credit Bureau cards. The airline has made it easy for those without credit as well. If you don't have a credit card or you have a child flying alone then it's possible to pre-purchase onboard amenities. Travelers can go online to choose the amenities desired up to one hour prior to the boarding of a flight. The purchase will show up on the boarding pass in the form of a code. This proves the purchase was made.

The plastic-only policy has been working out well. While it's not always convenient for travelers, it does keep things easier on the plane.

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