Southwest Airlines will no longer accept cash in the US

  • Southwest Airlines is no longer accepting cash to buy tickets at airports in the U.S. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Put away those Franklins, Grants and Jacksons because Southwest Airlines is no longer accepting cash to buy tickets at airports in the U.S.

It’s part of the Dallas-based airline’s effort to cut back on handling paper currency that goes back more than a decade. As of July 1, Southwest stopped accepting cash payments at ticket counters to book flights or to pay for upgrades and extra luggage.

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Many companies and even national governments are encouraging people to stop using cash as a way to cut down on social contact and disease spread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, banks and the U.S. government are reporting a shortage in coins.

Southwest has been trying to get rid of cash for years.

“The change to cashless at the airport had been in the works for awhile before COVID,” said Southwest spokesman Dan Landson. “And we stopped accepting cash onboard in 2008.”

None of the major airlines have allowed cash payments for years. American Airlines doesn’t allow cash payments at any of its major U.S. hubs.

“The majority of our mainline cities have been cashless for some time,” said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein. “A few regional cities are completing the transition.”

American Airlines stopped accepting cash at DFW International Airport in 2018.

Southwest is still allowing cash payments at international ticket counters, though.

Southwest didn’t say why it is doing away with cash, but many businesses are trying to eliminate the burden of paper money. Restaurants have been among the most aggressive in only taking debit and credit cards for transactions.

While credit and debit cards carry a cost for merchants, some have argued that its lower than the burden on businesses to accept cash.

“Much has been made about the cost of credit and debit transactions,” said Greg Buzek, president of research firm IHL Group, in a statement after a 2018 study on going cashless. “But the real cost of cash ranges from 4.7% to over 15% for some retail segments. These costs are often hidden as they are part of a manager or supervisor’s job rather than their complete focus.”

Airlines and other businesses have to train employees to use cash registers, count money daily and transport that cash to banks using security services.

Onboard flights, flight attendants would have the same problem and then have to cash out when they are often expected to run to their next flight.

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Southwest started the acceleration away from cash earlier this year. Starting June 3, the airline only allowed cash at 25 of its biggest U.S. airports, including Dallas Love Field.

As for personal checks, Southwest doesn’t take those either and neither does American.

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