As the dangers of SARS-COVID19 became evident, airlines around the world quickly ratcheted down their on-board catering services. In many cases, the once robust free and buy-on-board offerings on shorter flights were removed entirely to reduce passenger touchpoints and the possibility of spreading the infectious disease.
For better or worse airlines are resuming limited services, delivering some new innovations along the way. United announced on Wednesday that it will soon trial touchless digital payment on select routes out of its Denver hub as means to resume buy-on-board services on longer flights. The program kicks off the week of November 17.
United’s solution is quite simple, and doesn’t require any additional on board hardware. United passengers will simply be able to store their credit card information with the airline in order to reduce the physical handing off of the card to a flight attendant to payment processing.
“The person-to-person contact of passing credit cards from customers to employees was one of the most significant barriers for us in resuming food and beverage service in economy,” said United Spokesperson Christine Salamone. “This solution, which was developed in collaboration with our expert partners at the Cleveland Clinic, allows us to eliminate that touchpoint. We are returning food and beverage service for economy passengers for flights out of Denver first, but do hope to expand this in the coming months.”
The new payment option will be available on a handful of routes out of Denver, including Boston, Newark, Chicago, Dulles and Regan in D.C., Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. These routes all currently offer only an “all-in-one” snack bag, with a wrapped sanitizer wipe, 8.5-ounce bottled water and two snacks. The pre-packaged snack bag will remain in place on all flights, with premium snack boxes, beer and wine returning as an option.
United MileagePlus members who have stored a credit card in their profile are ready to go without having to do anything to take advantage of the new payment option. Non-members will be prompted to save their credit card information in app or on web at check-in, presumably tying said information to the PNR for a single use.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.