Now boarding: JetBlue accepting Apple Pay on flights

On your next JetBlue flight, you’ll need your photo identification and boarding pass but you can leave the credit cards behind. That’s because the airline will be the first to accept Apple Pay in-flight for any purchases made on board select flights, starting next week, according to USA Today‘s Ed Baig.

Flight attendants will use specially-equipped iPad Minis to accept payments, Baig reported on Tuesday. The tablets will have small card reader attachments for magnetic card swipes so Apple Pay won’t be an exclusive payment type on the planes. When Apple debuts the Apple Watch in April, [company]JetBlue[/company] will also accept payments from customers wearing one; [company]Apple[/company]’s smartwatch includes an NFC chip, just the way the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets do.

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This development isn’t all that surprising, because airlines have been adopting Apple technology for several years. United, for example, ordered 11,000 iPads in 2011 after the FCC approved the devices for use in lieu of paper manuals and charts. For its part, JetBlue has been pushing forward with technology in general for its passengers, last year launching its in-flight Wi-Fi service with dedicated 140GB satellite links.

I’m interested to see how well the Apple Pay experience will work for those sitting near a window on a JetBlue flight. It’s easy to pass a credit card to the flight attendant from there, less so to hold your phone across the face of two passengers while making sure your thumb is on the home button of your handset. It might even be trickier with an Apple Watch, although the attendant could always pass the iPad Mini to you.

That ergonomic challenge aside, I’m glad to see the old handheld POS terminals with integrated printers (that only work some of the time) going away in favor of digital payments.