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Apple Pay and JetBlue strike first airline deal

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Apple Pay is coming to select JetBlue Airways flights starting next week, according to a report in USA Today. Passengers with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus can purchase food and onboard amenities without fishing out their credit cards starting on transcontinental flights between New York’s JFK and San Francisco and Los Angeles airports. More destinations will be added in March with all JetBlue flights scheduled to support Apple Pay by June.

"Somebody else doing it always puts pressure on the other guy."

If you’ve ever tried making an in-flight purchase with a credit card you’ll immediately recognize the convenience this represents. Not only will it speed up payment processing for Apple Pay passengers, it'll also accelerate the food service for everyone else on the flight.

JetBlue is the first airline to support Apple’s contactless payment system and certainly won’t be the last. "Somebody else doing it always puts pressure on the other guy," says Apple’s Eddy Cue.

JetBlue is swapping out older payment terminals with iPad Mini’s equipped with Apple Pay-compatible NFC cases already approved by the FCC. The new iPad terminals also support plastic credit card payments. Later in the third quarter, JetBlue’s own mobile app will support Apple Pay as well. JetBlue's Rachel McCarthy says other contactless payment systems like Google Wallet will be supported "down the road."

Apple Pay is supported by 750 banks and Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Launched in September, it already accounts for two out of every three dollars spent via contactless payments for the three major credit cards. It's accepted by a few dozen US merchants including McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Whole Foods, and it recently became useable at some 200,000 vending machines thanks to a deal with USA Technologies.