Is Using A Credit Card Onboard A British Airways Airline Safe?

By: Anthony Samuel

If you fly frequently, whether for business or pleasure your main wish is to arrive at your destination safely with all your luggage and possessions with you. A secondary wish might be to travel in comfort; British Airways has always recognised this and has sought to cater for your every need. By using your frequent flyer credit card, you can enjoy VIP services such as express check-in and access to comforts like pre-flight dinners and restful nights in the club world bedrooms aboard the airline. With such luxuries BA has taken the tension and stress out of long distance air travel.

In a bid to improve the convenience for you the traveller, in early December 2006 British Airways launched the on flight chip and pin credit card service. Now you can use credit cards on all your BA flights. The chip and pin service was introduced in-flight to ensure a reduction in the number of fraudulent card activities in the air. But how secure is using your credit card on an airplane?

The device used by British Airways is called the SkyPort Plus and its wireless design means it can reach any passenger regardless of where you are sitting. The device stores information on the credit card hot lists and it verifies transactions against fraudulent credit cards in under a second. This is good news for anyone who has had their card stolen. But with such limited personal space, how do you protect your PIN while on board an airline?

The same rules would apply as if you were using your credit card on the ground. You must shield your PIN. Aboard the airline, the chances of someone using a mobile phone to record you entering your pin might be slimmer than on a crowded high street but the chances of someone seeing you enter your pin might be just as possible, especially if you are sitting in the middle seat of a 5 seat row.

The SkyPort Plus device was designed to be passed to you by the flight attendant so you can insert your card and enter your pin. If you need to pass your card to the attendant, ensure you cover it with your hands and never let your credit card out of your sight. When entering your PIN into the device, make sure you shield the keypad from prying eyes. If you are seated near the window at night make sure you pull down the shade to avoid any reflections in the window.

You should keep all your receipts in a safe place and destroy any incorrect and void receipts safely when you arrive at your destination.

BA's Retail Business Manager, Richard Cushing, has stated the new on-board chip and pin system has already helped to 'reduce the level of fraud substantially'. While this may be true it is still up to you to keep taking the necessary precautions to ensure you are not a victim of credit card fraud, whether on the ground or in the air.

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