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Alaska Airlines Takes Off with Apple’s Contactless Payment on Board

Alaska Airlines will be the first to utilize iPhones to process in-flight contactless payments through Apple's Tap to Pay feature

by Lauren Smith

November 20, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Soon, passengers on Alaska Airlines flights will be able to pay for their snacks and alcoholic beverages with a single tap of their contactless card, iPhone, or Apple Watch as the airline rolls out Apple’s Tap to Pay service.

Alaska Airlines flight attendants already use onboard airline-issued iPhones to help passengers locate their seats, deliver pre-ordered meals, take snack and drink orders, and offer Mileage Plan elites complimentary chocolates or premium beverages.

Now, they’ll also use those iPhones to accept contactless payments for onboard purchases. Alaska flight attendants previously used card terminals that weren’t equipped for tap payments and required passengers to swipe and enter a PIN.

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Apple’s Tap to Pay feature, launched in 2022, turns the iPhones into contactless payment terminals. Financial services platforms, including Stripe and Square, have integrated Tap to Pay into their systems, enabling vendors to charge customers quickly wherever they are, including 30,000 feet in the air.

Alaska Airlines will use Stripe Terminal, loaded onto flight attendants’ iPhones. To pay for their purchases, passengers must hold their contactless credit or debit card to a flight attendant’s iPhone.

Customers can also use iPhones or Apple Watches set up with Apple Pay or other compatible devices with digital wallets.

Charu Jain, senior vice president of innovation and merchandising at Alaska Airlines, said: “We’re constantly innovating to give our guests the most seamless and caring experience possible. We’re proud to partner with Stripe as the first airline to bring Apple’s Tap to Pay on iPhone technology to flight.”

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

“As someone who spends a lot of time in the air and always keeps their phone within reach, I’m thrilled to see Alaska Airlines roll out Tap to Pay on iPhone,” Eileen O’Mara, chief revenue officer at Stripe, added.

“Our partnership to introduce in-flight contactless payments keeps unnecessary hardware on the tarmac.”

The service is available on select Alaska Airlines flights and will be rolled out across the carrier’s entire fleet over the next few months.