Continental Airlines switches to plastic for on-board purchases

Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 9:58 by Jose Philip

Continental Airlines, based in Houston, Texas, the United States, is accepting credit cards and debit cards for on-board purchases on most of its flights, starting December 1, 2009.

The cashless system will be applicable to all mainline flights of Continental Airlines, except flights to and from China.

Continental Airlines – the 5th biggest airline in the world – has said that it is “continuing to develop process” for accepting the China Union Pay card, which is China’s major card.

However, the airline said in a statement, that duty-free purchases can be done with cash – a facility available on international flights.

According to Continental Airlines, flight attendants will use hand-held devices to process payments through credit cards and debit cards for buying alcoholic beverages as well as headphones on board.

Continental Airlines has been testing hand-held devices for reading credit cards and debit cards since June 2009.

Cash is still accepted on flights of Continental Connection, Continental Express, and Continental Micronesia.

Continental Airlines explained in the statement that Continental Connection, Continental Express, and Continental Micronesia are in the process of switching to “cashless cabin” on their flights from the first quarter of 2010.

Continental Airlines flies to several destinations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America.

American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, and owned by AMR Corporation, had gone ‘cashless’ on all its flights within the United States and Canada in June 2009.

Another US-based carrier, Southwest Airlines, had stopped accepting cash on board its flights from September 2009.

Other airlines based in the United States that accept credit cards and debit cards on board their fights include United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Midwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, Virgin America, and JetBlue Airways.