When Skift interviewed Luc Bondar, the new vice president of loyalty at United last month, we pressed him on whether United would follow American’s path in pushing its new Chase Explorer credit card in flight — a profitable and yet somewhat distracting move for passengers.

Bondar demurred, and we now know why. According to leaked internal documents, United plans to make in-flight credit card pitches mandatory as of September 1. Flight attendants, who will haul in an increased commission of $100 per sale on board (currently the obligation to pitch is optional for $50 commission), will go through mandatory training to get their pitches in line.

“The United Explorer Card relationship is a valuable tool to help grow the population of United loyalists, especially those who are infrequent travelers,” the airline shared in a later communication to flight crews. “The competition for these travelers is intense, and it is also the reason that our major competitors are promoting their own cards through the in-flight channel. The purchases customers make using these cards also generate significant revenue for the company, which in turn increases your profit sharing.”

Some frequent travelers, believe it or not, make their entire purchase decision based on the in-flight credit card pitch. For the rest of us with less flexibility, however, the in-flight interruption is here to stay.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

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Delta Continues Strong Growth Despite Higher Fuel Costs: The global airline sector will spend the year grappling with rising fuel costs, yet players with strong fundamentals should be able to weather the storm.

JetBlue Strikes $5.4 Billion Deal to Buy Smaller Airbus Jets: JetBlue is placing a big bet on Airbus SE’s newest jetliner.

Southwest Airlines Gives Up Free Peanuts Citing Allergy Concerns: Southwest will stop serving the small bags of free peanuts long associated with the discount carrier’s no-frills business model.

Airline Restrooms Really Are Getting Smaller and More Cramped: If the restroom on your next flight seems a bit snug, don’t assume you’ve picked up a few pounds. U.S. airlines increasingly are putting smaller lavatories on their planes — and the economics of the decision means they’re probably here to stay.

Ryanair Cancels Flights After Pilot Walkout: Ryanair grounded dozens of flights on Thursday as pilots in its Irish home market walked out after failing to agree to new contracts as part of a move toward unionization at the discount giant.

The Biggest Problem With the In-Flight Credit Card Pitch: This is a huge revenue opportunity for the airlines as they literally have their greatest customers in front of them. However, the biggest problem with the credit card pitch in flight is the lack of compliance oversight.

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Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [gm@skift.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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