United Airlines and PayPal have teamed up to create a new contactless way to make in-flight purchases. By the end of the year, United passengers will be able to display a PayPal QR code on their smartphones to purchase snacks, drinks and other in-flight purchases.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, United stopped accepting cash and credit card payments on board flights in an attempt to “have a safer, contactless travel experience.” As of last March, passengers wishing to purchase in-flight snacks or drinks must first download the United app and register a payment method in a digital wallet before boarding.
United has the most downloaded app in the airline industry, with up to 2.5 million users. This number is of course nothing compared to the nearly 400 million active PayPal users.
Passengers wishing to make purchases with PayPal on their flight will need to open the PayPal app before exiting the gate and set their preferred payment method for QR code payments. Then, during the flight, they have to click the “Pay with QR Codes” button and the “In-flight Purchase” button before showing the QR code to the flight attendant. The passenger will receive an email confirmation receipt upon landing.
The new PayPal option will first be offered on select flights departing from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and then rolled out before year-end across the carrier’s entire network where contactless payment is available.
Another key benefit of paying with PayPal on board is that the QR code functionality works offline and in areas with low connectivity, says Frank Keller, PayPal’s senior vice president for enterprise segment solutions and digital commerce. .
In June, United reintroduced a revamped menu of snacks and meal options to be purchased on most flights over two hours. Most United flights over two hours also offer beer, wine and seltzer water.
During the pandemic, amid an epidemic of unruly passengers often fueled by alcohol, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines stopped selling alcohol to passengers traveling by coach. To complement America’s six largest airlines, United, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue Airways all continue to sell alcohol to all passengers.
In August, United Airlines became the first major US carrier to tell its approximately 67,000 employees that they must be fully immunized by October 25 or face layoffs. Everyone agreed that the “get vaccinated or otherwise” message worked. A little more than one after the tenure was announced, United announced that 99.5% of employees were vaccinated against Covid-19, not counting the roughly 3% of employees receiving exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Last month, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before boarding a plane.