United Airlines Partners With Paypal for Contactless Onboard Purchases
United Airlines passengers will soon be able to pay for in-flight purchases with a QR code thanks to a new partnership the carrier has with PayPal, the company shared with Travel + Leisure this week.
Starting next month, passengers will be able to pay for drinks and snacks on board — even if they don't have Wi-Fi — by opening up the PayPal app and showing a flight attendant a QR Code, according to the airline. The contactless service will initially be available on select United Airlines flights leaving from Chicago O' Hare International Airport in November before being rolled out to the entire network by the end of the year.
"Our contactless payment offering is built on simplicity and choice and it's another way we're improving the overall experience of flying United," Toby Enqvist, the chief customer officer for United, said in a statement. "PayPal is a terrific partner and this technology gives our customers another easy way to make purchases, even when they're not online. We expect to introduce even more new and innovative options for our customers in the future through our collaboration with PayPal."
To utilize the new service, travelers must download the PayPal app and set up a preferred payment method. Customers will then select the "'Pay with QR codes" button when they are 30,000 feet in the air and click the "In-flight Purchase" button.
They will receive an emailed receipt when they land and once again have service.
The new technology comes a few months after United rolled out new snack items like its Takeoff snack box with high-protein options (think: salami and gouda cheese spread) and its Recline snack box with movie theater-themed treats like honey mustard pretzels and gummy bears, as well as new drinks like mango White Claw.
United customers can also store their payment information in the digital wallet on the United app.
United isn't alone in aiming to make flying a more contactless experience. Last year, American Airlines rolled out a new system to let passengers drop off their bags without having to make contact with screens or airline employees.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.