As a result, when transactions are made on a plane but are declined upon landing, shoppers are ultimately walking off planes with items they'll never pay for, said GuestLogix CEO Brett Proud.
About 1.2 percent of North American in-flight transactions were declined in 2013, according to GuestLogix data, usually as a result of low balance or credit limits. Luckily for airlines, 30 to 40 percent of those declined transactions are reprocessed and authorized on the ground, Proud said.
Airlines have implemented transaction limits to mitigate the risk of not being paid for duty-free and other items for sale. But that risk could be eliminated with in-flight wireless Internet connections allowing for real-time credit and debit card authorizations, Proud said.
And Internet access aboard all planes could be good news for shoppers. If payments could be confirmed in flight, airlines might be more willing to offer bigger-ticket purchases and a wider variety of duty free items for sale, Proud said.