Latvian airline airBaltic may be the first to accept payments in bitcoin, according to a Twitter post issued by the company.
Although no formal press release was made, airBaltic's website quietly began displaying the offering on 17th July. The company later acknowledged the decision when Twitter user Club Alpaca asked the company to confirm the news today.
A company representative in Riga said that the bitcoin payment option is offered for basic class fares, excluding China, Indonesia, India, Iceland, Jordan, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Other travel services companies have also begun accepting bitcoin this year, although airBaltic may be the first airline.
Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson’s UK-based air carrier Virgin Atlantic has not begun accepting bitcoin, his space flight venture Virgin Galactic has. Just two months later six or seven people were confirmed for a space flight, paid for with bitcoin.
Customers question payment terms
Customers that choose to pay for their travel services in bitcoin still have to pay the €5.99 transaction fee, a decision one other Tweeter quickly challenged.
— airBaltic (@airBaltic) July 21, 2014
The airline held that the fee was not for processing the bitcoin itself, but for separate handling charges.
Bitcoin gains ground in travel sector
Last month travel giant Expedia began accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings, but not for flight reservations so far. The company did not close specific numbers, but recently told CoinDesk that the response has been better than anticipated.
In November, CheapAir began accepting bitcoin for flight bookings, and it has since expanded its services to 200,000 partner hotels and railway offerings. The company recently announced it has topped $1.5m in total bitcoin sales.
CoinDesk has reached out to airBaltic for more details, but has not received an immediate response.