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What to Do When Cashless Cabins Go Awry

Welcome to the Today in Travel Question of the Week. As always, you can submit a query below or via email

In response to news that Delta will switch to credit-card-only purchases onboard, several readers wrote in with questions about how the new system will work. I got in touch with Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec, who was happy to clear up some grey areas.

For the first question, reader Ruby asked, “In August this year on a Delta flight to Atlanta on a B767, the computer system malfunctioned and the credit card reader was not available. In a “no-cash” system what will be the answer in this situation?”

According to Skrbec, the answer is simple: cash. “In the rare situation when credit card readers are not available,” Skrbec wrote, “our flight attendants have procedures that allow for the acceptance of cash.” No shock here. Just because the credit cards readers go on the fritz doesn’t mean your snack is free, and certainly doesn’t mean it’s no longer for sale. Cold, hard cash will do the trick.

Our second question comes from reader AirBodie, who asks, “What about the coupons good for a free drink or headset? Will they accept them and will they become a thing of the past?”

No way, says Skrbec. “Delta will continue to accept coupons. The ability to accept coupons is not impacted.”

So there you have it.

Now, many have also wondered, “What about travelers without credit or debit cards?” Quite frankly, these passengers are simply out of luck on cashless airlines. The airlines are making these switches to streamline the process and encourage more purchases. And the prevalence of plastic in people’s wallets makes for a pretty compelling argument. For those among you who don’t carry or use credit or debit cards, there’s no harm in trying to persuade your flight attendant to accept cash, but don’t expect much.

Readers, do you have any other questions about cashless cabins? Or any travel-related questions in general? Leave a comment below or submit your question via email.

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