Delta joins the ranks of “cashless cabins”

I can’t remember the last time I paid with cash for a drink on a domestic flight. Even on my last few international flights, I pulled out the plastic when it was time for a nerve-calming vodka-cran. So I was actually kind of surprised at the announcement that Delta Airlines would no longer be accepting cash on flights in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. I didn’t even realize cash was still an option.

But if you haven’t yet joined the plastic revolution, or if you just prefer to pay with cash, be warned. As of December 1, you must use debit or credit cards only for all purchases made onboard Delta and Northwest flights, with the exception of trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and South American flights (where both options will be available). You’ll also still be able to use cash (or your card) for onboard duty-free purchases.

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Starting tomorrow, your cash is no longer welcome on American Airlines

Starting tomorrow, Passengers on domestic American Airlines flights will be forced to use plastic for all on-board purchases.

This means you’ll need a credit or debit card to purchase headsets, alcoholic drinks or food.

In the lineup of frequently asked questions, this is the answer given to the question “can I still pay with cash”:

We anticipate that most of our customers will be prepared for cashless cabins as the vast majority of our domestic tickets are purchased with credit cards.

Awesome marketing spin – “we anticipate”, “most”, “vast majority”. All code for “some passengers will be screwed”.

I’m especially concerned about unaccompanied minors and (younger) tourists visiting the US from countries where plastic is not as popular. First the airlines take away free food and drinks, then they take away the ability to pay for it with cash.

If you do not have a credit card but still want access to on board purchases, I recommend finding a prepaid card (available from Walmart and most grocery stores). Still, that is a bit of a hassle to go through, just to get a drink and a bite to eat, so your best option is to get some real food at the airport and bring it on board. Airport concessions still love your cash.

American Airlines is not the first to go completely cashless, Midwest, JetBlue, Virgin American, AirTran and Frontier all converted to plastic payments ages ago, but American Airlines is the first of the big 5 to make the move. Expect the others to follow really soon.