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Spanish Airlines Facing Lawsuit Because They Refuse to Accept Cash as Payment For Inflight Purchases

Spanish Airlines Facing Lawsuit Because They Refuse to Accept Cash as Payment For Inflight Purchases

A group of eight Spanish airlines are facing a potential lawsuit because they are refusing to accept cash payments onboard their planes for purchases like food and drink.

Spanish consumer group, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), first protested about the situation in October 2022, but none of the airlines have responded to the complaint and still only accept card payments on their flights.

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Now, the OCU says it has filed an official complaint with the authorities in Madrid in an attempt to force the airlines: Iberia, Iberia Express, Air Europa, Iberojet, Plus Ultra, Volotea, Wamos Air and World2fly to accept cash payments onboard.

The OCU points out that the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users, which was introduced in May 2022, makes it illegal for a company to prevent a customer from paying in cash.

During the pandemic, many airlines and other retail companies stopped accepting cash payments to reduce contact between staff and customers but after widespread complaints, Spanish law was strengthened to enshrine the right to cash payments.

Consumer rights advocates argue that not only is there no longer any health reason to justify a ban on cash payments, but that it places vulnerable passengers at risk because the ban on cash payments means they might not actually be able to buy anything onboard.

“This is abusive and constitutes a serious violation of consumer protection regulations,” the consumer group said in a statement earlier this week.

The government can fine companies that refuse cash payments between €150 and €100,000 ($160 – $106,000). The OCU believes the airlines could face penalties at the upper end of this scale because their legal infraction is considered serious.

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