Big Data Download

Better retail sales expected in the sky

Big Data Download

The spring break travel season is upon us and for some air travelers, flipping through the SkyMall catalog is the best way to pass the time it takes to get from point A to point B.

Last year, $156 million in credit card transactions were made in flight by top North American airline carriers, according to GuestLogix, a retail payment technology company. But a majority of those transactions were first made offline, then processed with credit and debit card companies on landing.

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As a result, when transactions are made on a plane but are declined upon landing, shoppers are ultimately walking off planes with items they'll never pay for, said GuestLogix CEO Brett Proud.

About 1.2 percent of North American in-flight transactions were declined in 2013, according to GuestLogix data, usually as a result of low balance or credit limits. Luckily for airlines, 30 to 40 percent of those declined transactions are reprocessed and authorized on the ground, Proud said.

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Airlines have implemented transaction limits to mitigate the risk of not being paid for duty-free and other items for sale. But that risk could be eliminated with in-flight wireless Internet connections allowing for real-time credit and debit card authorizations, Proud said.

And Internet access aboard all planes could be good news for shoppers. If payments could be confirmed in flight, airlines might  be more willing to offer bigger-ticket purchases and a wider variety of duty free items for sale, Proud said.

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