ARINC and Cathay authorise credit cards in flight

ARINC has developed and tested a software solution to allow live credit card authorisation (Live CCA) for passenger transactions on airline flights. Along with partner Cathay Pacific Airlines the company recently completed a successful trial of the Live CCA technology that began in March.

Live CCA is seen as a key application that could help airlines manage the problem of bad credit card debt. It can also provide the potential for ancillary revenue through additional sales streams of destination-based products and greater sales of high-end duty free goods.

ARINC says it worked closely with Cathay Pacific and its duty free point-of-sale (POS) provider to develop the necessary software, which is incorporated in the POS device and the aircraft server. In use, passenger credit card transactions entered on the POS device are encrypted and sent via Iridium satellite to the ARINC ground network and then to the airline’s own network, which interfaces with the credit card clearing house. Reply information from the clearing house is sent back to the aircraft, and the cabin crew is made aware of any unsuccessful authorisation request.

Although the solution just tested was developed specifically to expedite duty-free purchases on Cathay Pacific flights, the principles and supporting technology may be generalised for other types of on-board sales, and for use by other carriers. ARINC says it has already received requests from several airlines, one of which intends to use Live CCA to facilitate sales of high-end duty-free items and seat upgrades during the flight.

ARINC adds that it is currently working to expand the communication protocols available to include Inmarsat classic and SwiftBroadband satcom. The company is also working to ensure the Live CCA solution will function with multiple POS devices, and is investigating the optimum hardware approach to ensure Live CCA can be made available to all airlines with a need for it.

“We had excellent results from our initial airline testing,” says Mike DiGeorge, senior director, aviation solutions, ARINC EMEA. “This achievement is a world first, and a major step in meeting today’s demand for increasingly sophisticated passenger amenities.”

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