Apple Pay locks first airline deal, taking off with JetBlue next week

Apple has struck its first deal with an airline, as select JetBlue Airways flights will support Apple Pay starting next week, according to a new report.

Apple Pay is the company's mobile payment system, and Apple has made significant efforts to team up with major companies for the service since its debut back in September. A new report now claims that Apple Pay is about to take off with JetBlue Airways next week, as the airline will start supporting the mobile wallet.

The news comes from USA Today, which reports that JetBlue Airways passengers with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus will be able to purchase food, drinks, or other onboard amenities via Apple Pay. Passengers will even be able to upgrade to premium seats paying with Apple Pay.

At first the service will be available for transcontinental flights between New York's JFK and airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but more destinations will become available in March. All JetBlue flights are reportedly set to support Apple Pay by June.

JetBlue is the very first airline to support Apple Pay, but USA Today notes that other airlines will surely follow suit afterwards.

"Somebody else doing it always puts pressure on the other guy," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services.

This is an important milestone for Apple Pay, and it will bring great benefits to consumers as well. Making an in-flight purchase with a credit card is oftentimes quite a hassle, but Apple Pay should make it notably easier and speed up the whole process.

Moreover, when the Apple Watch finally makes its commercial debut in April, it will also allow JetBlue travelers who are wearing the smartwatch to make payments via Apple Pay straight from their wrists.

"The sky is definitely not the limit when it comes to mobile payments with Apple Pay," Marty St. George, a senior vice president at JetBlue, further told USA Today.

JetBlue is reportedly replacing older payments terminals with iPad Mini tablets equipped with NFC cases that are compatible with Apple Pay, and the new terminals should support plastic credit card payments as well.

"The carrier is swapping older mobile payment terminals for specially outfitted iPad Minis with NFC-capable cases that are being issued to more than 3,500 inflight crewmembers. The Federal Aviation Administration had to approve the new iPads before they could be used onboard," explains the report. "The iPads can also accept conventional plastic credit cards to accommodate passengers without the latest iPhone or smartwatch."

Moreover, JetBlue's own mobile app will reportedly start supporting Apple Pay sometime in the third quarter. Other mobile payment systems such as Google wallet, meanwhile, will be supported "down the road," said JetBlue's Rachel McCarthy, vice president for inflight experience.

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