Bitcoin flying high as travelers use it to book flights

25 March, 2015

Since bitcoin was first introduced it has continued to gain in popularity and has become more accepted in mainstream society.

As more online and offline retailers begin to accept bitcoin as a form of payment, consumers can buy practically anything they desire using the virtual currency. Now, it is even possible to book and pay for airline tickets using bitcoin.

Bitcoins now accepted through large travel payment network

UATP, a payment network that caters to the airline industry has now announced that it has formed a partnership with Bitnet to make it possible for consumers to pay for their flights with bitcoin. Through the partnership with Bitnet, a leading bitcoin processing platform, almost 300 of the largest carriers in the world will be able to accept the digital currency for flight bookings. 1

The news is certainly not insignificant, considering that merchants using UATP as a payment processor comprise 95 percent of the airline capacity around the world and include such brands as Delta air Lines, British Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Lufthansa. In addition, UATP also works with thousands of travel agencies as well as several rail operators, including Amtrak. While not all of these travel providers have confirmed that they will be adding a pay with bitcoin payment option to their websites, they will now have the ability to do so.

Over the past year, an increasing number of retailers have begun to add bitcoin as a payment option, among the most notable of which is the early adopter, Others have joined the "coinrush" too, including Microsoft. You can add bitcoins to your Microsoft account and use it as a payment option to buy apps, games, and other digital content from Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox Games / Music and Video.

Retailers, both large and small, have come to recognize that accepting bitcoin as payment offers a number of benefits, including lower transaction fees. Considering that airlines already operate on an extremely thin profit margin, the ability to save money on transaction fees through bitcoin payments offers a definite appeal. Given the frequency of foreign currency transaction in airline bookings, a cross-border payment option offers further appeal for passengers as well as airlines.

Using bitcoin as a payment option is also beneficial for residents of regions of the world where bank accounts are not common, including Africa. In the past, mobile-phone-based payments have served as the preferred option for booking flights. Now, travelers from those regions will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase flights using bitcoin. Given the concerns regarding fraud related to credit cards and other online forms of payment, bitcoin also offers another tremendous benefits to travelers; protecting their finances.

For travelers who might be concerned about the price volatility associated with the digital currency, there is even more good news. With Bitnet serving as the e-commerce platform, bitcoins can be converted to other currencies almost immediately, thereby reducing any concerns about the risks associated with price fluctuations.

Other airlines also accepting bitcoin as payment

UATP is not actually the first service to provide the ability to purchase flights using bitcoin, although it is certain the largest. Late last year, ABitSky announced that it would be selling all of its flights in bitcoin. Destinia also launched a campaign last year offering 20 percent discounts on all flights booked using bitcoins. The company first began to accept bitcoin as a payment option in early 2014. AirBaltic also announced last year that it would be accepting bitcoin as payment for tickets to dozens of different destinations throughout Russia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe. The travel website Expedia also began accepting bitcoins as a payment option for booking travel last year.

Technically, AirBaltic was the first airline to accept Bitcoin for payment; however, Virgin Galactic had offered bitcoin as a payment option for space flights in 2013.


1) The Econmist. Gulliver Business travel. Booking flights with bitcoin: Taking off