Want To Buy Food & Drinks On United Flights? You’ll Need To Do This First!

by joeheg

This news won’t matter if you’re a United 1K and spend most of your time in the front of the plane, or if you get your food and drinks comped. For the rest of us flying in economy, who might want to pay for a drink or snacks, it’s important to know that United doesn’t accept credit cards for payment on your flights.

What? Why would they sell food and drinks and not accept credit cards for payment?

United no longer accepts physical credit cards for onboard purchases and only will charge purchases to the card saved to your account (or with Paypal, but according to United’s website, that’s only on select flights).

a white text on a blue backgroundThere are five ways for you to save a credit card to make inflight purchases:

  • Save to your MileagePlus account (preferred)
  • At check-in on the United app
  • At check-in on United.com
  • After check-in on the United app
  • After check-in on United.com

You can find directions on how to save a form of payment before your flight on United’s website.

You don’t have to show your credit card onboard the flight, but you may be asked to confirm the name on the card you have on file.

While most airlines have stopped accepting cash for purchases, United is the only one I know that won’t take a physical card for payment onboard.

If you’re making a purchase, remember that United MileagePlus credit cardholders receive a 25% rebate for onboard food and drinks. You’d need to make sure that’s the card you have saved to your United profile to get the discount.

And if you didn’t save your payment information before your flight, well, I hope you packed some food in your carry-on bag.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


CHRIS May 26, 2022 - 8:50 pm

This is utterly stupid. I guarantee this won’t last long.

Bob May 27, 2022 - 9:55 am

This has been in place for a while now, its super easy to do and makes “purchasing” food and drinks onboard quick and easy. Both the gate agents and flight attendants make several announcements prior to taking off and it literally takes 30sec to save your card info. There’s no need for people to hand over their cards or wait for FA’s to bumble with a credit card machine/square. People freaked out when airlines when cashless, this is just the next step in the evolution of the process.


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