United Airlines and PayPal are partnering to offer a new way to make touch-free in-flight purchases using QR code technology.
United Airlines Will Partner With PayPal For In-Flight Purchases
During the pandemic, United was one of the first carriers to restore its buy-on-board offerings in economy class. First came alcohol, then packaged snacks, and now fresh meals have also returned. But unlike before the pandemic, United Airlines no longer accepts physical credit cards. Instead, all payment information must be stored within the reservation on the United app or united.com.
This policy allows flight attendants to avoid touching physical credit cards.
Starting next month, United passengers can alternatively use a PayPal QR code in the PayPal app to pay for drinks, snacks, and even upgrades onboard, even if wi-fi internet is not available.
These PayPal QR codes can be used on “select” flights departing from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) starting in November and will expand across the entire network where contactless payment is offered by the end fo the year.
The process will work similar to Venmo’s QR code system:
- Download the PayPal app and set your QR code preference while online prior to take-off
- Click the ‘Pay with QR codes’ button
- Then click the ‘In-flight Purchase’ button
- Show the QR code to the flight attendant to scan
- Look for an emailed confirmation receipt upon landing
For passengers who prefer to use their PayPal balance to settle in-flight purchases, that option is rolling out on United Airlines starting next month.
As United shows no signs of ever accepting physical cards again, I hope that in the future flight attendants will also be able to accept Apple Pay and tap-to-pay cards, which seems an easier and more secure method of payment than storing credit card info on united com.