Travel has come a long way since the days of traveller’s cheques and queuing at traditional bureaux de change, and the payment methods holidaymakers use abroad are rapidly changing with only 9% of purchases expected to be made in cash by 2028*. Airlines are also adopting a more cash-free approach with only 5 of 15 major airlines still accepting cash payments onboard. Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) is therefore helping savvy travellers keep up-to-date with these developments, by releasing an infographic guide detailing which methods of payment are accepted onboard airlines.

The guide is available to download from the APH website at and compares the payment options available on 15 popular airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Qatar Airways.

So, is it really over for cash payments onboard airlines? Travellers should be aware that 10 of the 15 most popular airlines, such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Emirates, have already moved away from accepting cash payments and only accept debit or credit card payments inflight. All 15 airlines accept major credit cards such as American Express, Visa and Mastercard and passengers flying with Etihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic who wish to make inflight purchases should note that credit cards are the only valid payment option onboard. Surprisingly, however, only just over half of the airlines researched accept debit card payments onboard their flights due to debit cards not being affiliated with a major credit card company and therefore are not a valid payment method in the skies. Turkish Airlines, Japan Airlines and British Airways are amongst the airlines that will allow passengers to make purchases using debit cards.

Passengers who wish to pay for their inflight indulgences with physical money should consider flying with Air France, Lufthansa, Delta, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways – the remaining five popular airlines to accept money onboard flights. However, holidaymakers travelling with Qatar Airways should note that the airline only accepts Qatari riyal and US dollars.

Other increasingly popular payment methods include application payments such as Apple Pay which is accepted onboard Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines and Delta. Similarly, travellers are being encouraged by Air Canada and Lufthansa to use the airline apps to purchase digital content and shopping services whilst onboard and those flying with American Airlines can use the American Airlines app to pay for an upgrade mid-flight from Economy to Main Cabin Extra. Travellers flying with seven of the 15 airlines, including Air Canada, Air France and Virgin Atlantic, can also pre-pay for inflight duty free.

For the more tech-savvy traveller, Emirates have introduced an on-screen ordering system in First Class where food can be bought directly to passenger seats. Four of the airlines researched have already listed prepaid travel cards as valid payment methods onboard, with Turkish Airlines and British Airways accepting prepaid Monzo cards, and Emirates and Delta also accepting post office travel cards alongside Monzo payments.

Nick Caunter, Managing Director of APH said, “An increasing number of airlines are adopting a cash-less policy when it comes to making purchases during the flight. With some airlines now also accepting payments from pre-paid travel cards such as Monzo and apps such as Apple Pay, it’s essential for travellers to be aware of their options when spending money during the flight and we hope the APH research on our website allows passengers to plan ahead accordingly.”

For further information on Airport Parking and Hotels (APH)
visit or call 01342 859515.


Research correct as of December 2019
*According to research conducted by UK Finance:

About Airport Parking and Hotels (APH)
Established in 1980, Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) is an award-winning airport parking operator and retailer, winning the ‘Best Airport Parking Company’ award at the British Travel Awards 2019 for the tenth year running. In addition to APH’s own car parks serving Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham Airports, APH also offers parking at all major UK airports as well as airport hotels, airport lounges and via trusted partners other extras such as car hire and travel insurance.

APH is a carbon-balanced company having worked closely with the World Land Trust for many years to off-set their carbon emissions and to help support rainforest conservation by protecting threatened forest habitats. APH also supports other charities and is a proud corporate sponsor of the University of Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology, where the world’s most eminent experts come together in the quest to find new and innovative treatments. APH has also recently started a new partnership with Action Medical Research for Children to raise vital funds for research through a series of staff-based cycle and running challenges.

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