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Southwest Airlines Community

Change Is Good, but No Change Is Even Better

angela
Adventurer C

If you've been on a Southwest flight, you've no doubt heard the Flight Attendant ask for change for a $20 bill. Well, those days are going the way of knee socks and penny loafers (did I just date myself?). Beginning September 9, Southwest will "flip the switch" and accept only credit and debit cards for beer, liquor, and energy drink purchases. Of course we'll still take your drink coupons as well.
 
So how does this change benefit you? If you're like me, you never carry cash anymore and you despise using airport ATMs that charge three bucks for the privilege to use their machine. The next time you get a craving for an adult beverage or energy drink inflight, you need only whip out your credit card and our Flight Attendants will swipe it on a the new handheld credit card device.
 
It's important to note that this does not signal the start for charging for things previously free to you inflight such as soft drinks, water, juice, snacks, blankets, pillows, and general human kindness. You'll still be receiving the same free amenities you're accustomed to on Southwest.
 
Anytime you make a major change like this on an airline our size, it's no small feat. I expect there will be a few bumps along the road but we have the best people in the industry and they are up to the task.
 
Interesting tidbit: Since Southwest doesn't have drink carts like most carriers, we had to come up with an inventive way for the Flight Attendants to take drink orders on a drink pad while swiping the card on the device without having to learn to juggle (although that would be entertaining). What resulted was a cool little white clipboard that will be carried by the Flight Attendants. It holds the drink order pad on one side and the device on the other. It's even ergonomically correct ).  Check it out on your next Southwest flight after September 9.

13 Comments
Greg7
Explorer C
Although I'm not one to "buy drinks" on a flight...I'll be sure to check out the new system over Thanksgiving. I've got plenty of chances to see it in action, as our trip goes CMH-MDW-LAX-SFO then SFO-MDW-CMH. I've always marveled at how much more efficient and pleasant the order system/lack of drink cart system works. Not only does it speed things up, it allows people to move through the cabin! DUH!!! Thanks for paying attention to the little things!!!
adriana11
Explorer C
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Southwest is always my first choice for domestic travel and this is just another great reason why.
Anne6
Explorer C
Yea! An option for silly folks like me who forget my coupons at home and *never* have exact cash. We'll test this tomorrow on our flight to Orlando!
interstate275fl
New Arrival
I like how Southwest is changing for the better! No more flight attendants asking passengers to ring the call button in search for change ("if you have change for a $20 bill, please ring your call button"). Besides, if you happen to purchase a Business Select ticket (and I recently had the privilege to fly Business Select from TPA to FLL and back just recently) you get a drink coupon to use on the flight. Moreover, when you get a Rapid Rewards award you also get a book of drink coupons to use on the flight as well.
tim-c
Explorer C
I just ran across a little blurb about this on a Vegas news site. My first reaction was one of slight shock and concern. It's that ol' "knee-jerk" reaction to change that so many of us suffer from. But, in reading this blog and thinking more about it, I'm begining to see that this is another example of how Sothwest Airlines continually looks for ways to improve their already stellar customer service. While I try to use drink coupons as much as I can, I have been one of those in the slightly awkward position of producing a $20 bill for my one Bloody Mary. I feel terrible when the flight attendant has to go searching for change among the other passengers. This new system will certainly make it easier on the flight attendants, and thus free them up to serve their customers more efficiently. I look forward to trying out this new system on my next flight.
iflyswa
Explorer C
This is a great change and shows that SWA is always ahead of the curve and is using the great technology we are blessed with today to get things done efficently!! I LOVE SOUTHWEST! I was just reading the Spirit Mag this pass week on my weekly flight and see that SWA will soon start testing high speed internet - I AM MOST EXCITED ABOUT THIS ENHANCEMENT.
krozich
Explorer C
I've been traveling quite a bit recently and find this information very rewarding. I rarely find myself having cash on me, especially when I travel, and knowing that I can use my credit card seems very rewarding. Using a credit card machine will now delete the need for exchanging cash and waiting for change, and the quick and easy system will keep the walkways clear for other passengers. Great upgrade!
krozich
Explorer C
What a great addition to your flights! Using a credit card machine will make the purchasing of adult beverages so much easier, and certainly more available to those of us who travel without cash. This This also allows for faster service, as both passengers and attendants don't have to worry about scrambling for cash and change, and the isles remain open. I'm looking forward to using this service, as well as all the updates Southwest has been offering!
strikeapose
Explorer C
Perhaps I'm still living in the dark ages, but I DO carry cash and though I'm sure most of your passengers are happy with the new change, I would appreciate it if you would also continue to accept cash besides accepting credit and debit cards. I don't believe it is a huge inconvenience for the flight attendants on those few occasions when change is needed and I'm always happy to give change if I've got it. For those of use who like to know that there aren't big credit card bills coming in at the end of the month and choose to pay cash, please extend the courtesy of having that option. Thank you for your consideration.
blusk
Aviator C
strikeapose, I can certainly understand your reasoning--I too hate credit cards bills. You can still use cash to buy drinks, you just have to purchase the drink coupons in advance at the ticket counter before boarding. Brian
Alex_C1
Explorer C
Are you serious? It's one thing to accept credit/debit cards, but it is an entirely different thing to decline cash payment. It costs four dollars for a drink, I'm not going to charge a four dollar drink on my credit card. It's like writing a check for gum at a gas station. I just don't understand where this 'cashless' thing came from. And you guys act like it's just great.
Tom_Anderson
Explorer C
Next time someone asks me about the definition of 'astroturfing' I'll just point them to this thread! Obviously not taking cash is the huge PITA for people who prefer it that way. Southwest doesn't trust their employees to handle cash, and we're supposed to trust them with our credit card? This is a transfer of risk from the supplier to the customer. Not acceptable to me. By the way perhaps the original US astroturfer was Ben Franklin, who wrote his own letters to the editor in favor of the revolution. Keep up the tradition, guys!
Jim_Halpin
Explorer C
I'm more concerned about cost cutting resulting in less frequent airframe inspections then the minor inconvenience of not accepting cash in flight. Having said that there is no convenience to a customers when cash is refused as a form of payment. OK it's legal tender but they told us before hand they don't accept cash, and outside of a supreme court hearing we will just never know what the legality of refusing to accept cash is. But it's not a legal issue it's a customer service issue. I refuse to accept customers are better served by refusing cash due to the disruption it causes making change. Any disruption accepting cash is the result of Southwest refusing to make adequate arrangements for change and settlement. All retailers make change and handle cash, and being airborne doesn't excuse away serving each customer with care, respect, and efficiency. If the customer wants to pay with cash they should have that choice. Southwest stopped accepting cash because it was more convenient and less costly to Southwest, not because it is a convenience to their customers. Good customer service starts with doing what is good for customers not yourself. Sorry Southwest but every time I hear that no cash announcement I read it as a no care announcement. Jim