Southwest Airlines Goes Cashless

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines made their decision official on July 1, the airline would no longer accept cash payments at ticket counters to book flights, pay for upgrades, or for extra luggage.

In 2008, Southwest stopped accepting cash aboard planes, and the company has been exploring ways to go cashless for some time.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies and governments are discouraging citizens from using cash to pay for goods and services as one way to potentially reduce social contact and spread of the coronavirus.

Fewer people out spending money during the pandemic has led to a coin shortage in the U.S. However, last month the Federal Reserve called this a temporary phenomenon and a situation which would rectify itself once more of the economy began reopening after being shut down for several months.

On July 11, national grocery chain Kroger, which has a considerable presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, announced it would no longer issue coins as change to customers, a move predicated by the shortage.

A Southwest company official said the move away from cash had been in the works even before COVID-19 forced carriers to lay off or furlough employees, cut routes and reduce expenses.

However, going cashless is nothing new for domestic airlines. Most major airlines have not allowed cash payments for years, including Fort Worth-based American Airlines, which does not accept cash at any of its U.S. hubs.

In 2018, American stopped accepting cash at DFW International Airport.

Southwest Airlines declined to specify its rationale behind the move to go cashless, but the decision comes as many businesses look to eliminate handling paper money.

Some restaurants have stopped accepting cash, forcing customers to use either debit or credit cards for payment.

Accepting only credit or debit cards carries a cost for companies adhering to this practice, but industry experts maintain those costs are minimal compared to such cash-related expenses like training employees to handle cash and paying for security services to transport currency to financial institutions.

Both American and Southwest Airlines refuse to accept personal checks for payment.

Staff Report