Update: As of July 24, airBaltic has removed their €5.99 (about $8.06) transaction fee for Bitcoin purchases. The move comes after the company garnered much criticism from the Bitcoin community for the institution of the transaction fee in the first place.
On July 22nd, Latvian airline airBaltic announced on their website that they had become the first airline to accept Bitcoins as payments for plane tickets. To process the payments, airBaltic has teamed up with BitPay.
The move to the digital currency is akin to the company’s customer-centric ideology, one that has placed them among the “top 10 most innovative airlines globally” list by AirlineTrends.com.
“Introducing the Bitcoin payment option is a part of our innovative approach to service with a central focus on our customer,” said CEO Martin Gauss.
Customers can purchase tickets by going to the airBaltic website and choosing “Pay with Bitcoins” under the selection menu. BitPay then processes their payments and the customers can then print their tickets. Currently only the cheapest tickets, known as “airBalticBasic class” can be purchased with Bitcoins.
One point of controversy is the € 5.99 (about $8.06) transaction fee applied to Bitcoin purchases. Although this transaction fee is also apparent with credit and bank link purchases, one of the cornerstones of the Bitcoin technology is the promise of low transaction fees, much lower than those that banks charge.
Some Twitter users took to the airline’s official Twitter account to question this fee.
“@airBaltic Why do you have a transaction fee for Bitcoin payments? It costs nothing to transact, that’s the point.”
In response to the confusion, airBaltic stated:
“Hello! This fee is applied to cover the costs associated with processing and handling the booking, not the Bitcoin itself.”
CoinReport reached out to airBaltic for details, but did not immediately receive a response.
Image Credit: Public Domain Image by AIR BALTIC CORPORATION (airBaltic)