Latvian National Airline airBaltic Becomes World’s First Airline to Accept Bitcoin

This week, Latvia’s national airline, airBaltic, confirmed that it is now accepting bitcoin, and that in doing so, it became the first airline that accepts bitcoin directly, rather than through a third party. By becoming the first airline to accept bitcoin, airBaltic has surely stolen a march on everybody else.

This is a positive move for those that want bitcoin to evolve into a mainstream currency that can be used for the purchase of everyday goods and utilities, and it could lead competitors to also offer a bitcoin payment option.

The immediate knock-on effect could be that Expedia will start accepting bitcoin for flight bookings, in addition to hotel bookings that you can already make with the cryptocurrency.

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The Airline airBatic has become the first Airline to allow Bitcoin as a mode of payment. However, airBatic is charging a transaction fee for any payment made through Bitcoin. A processing and handling fee typically is meant to cover costs from processing the payment. So, where in this case there is practically none, it is not clear why this expense still applies.

Surely, the handling of the booking itself would already be accounted for in its salaries and expenses, as this is the main purpose and reason for the business’s existence, so it would seem pretty odd not to have this factored into its costs already. There is no transaction fee when using an airBaltic card, for example, which demonstrates that the main purpose of these fees are deterrents, aimed to encourage customers to avoid other payment methods and to take advantage of the benefits of being an airBaltic cardholder.

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Having broken ground in becoming the first airline to accept bitcoin, it makes no sense to essentially deter people from using it. Otherwise it is no more than a publicity stunt, which to be fair to them has done the airline pretty well so far already. AirBaltic was quick to spot a big opportunity with bitcoin, and hopefully they can capitalize on it.

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