CheapAir.com is a website which offers users access to cheap tickets for air travel. The service doubles up as both a comparison website and an overall hub for booking air travel. They even offer a payback system which ensures that if the price of your flight drops after you have bought the tickets, CheapAir.com will credit you with the difference.
CheapAir.com are currently one of the few air travel services to offer Bitcoin as a payment option. At present, these payments are facilitated by Coinbase, however due to Coinbase’s decision to drop their Coinbase Merchant Tools and move towards a new system called ‘Coinbase Commerce’ CheapAir.com have reportedly decided to move to rivals BitPay in order to continue facilitating seemly air-travel payments, in Bitcoin, on their website.
According to RTTNews, the CEO of CheapAir.com, Jeff Klee has said:
“The company was recently informed by Coinbase that they will no longer support “custodial” solutions for merchants, and are removing a number of the tools and features that CheapAir rely on to accept Bitcoin from its shoppers. These changes are scheduled to occur in a matter of weeks.”
The move, also gives CheapAir.com the option to expand into accepting other alt-coins, the report in RTTNews actually discusses additions of Bitcoin Cash, Dash and Litecoin being added onto the websites services.
This is a big move for the cryptocurrency adoption movements. Having a system that treats air travel almost like stocks, allowing you to buy in for tickets at the best price, that now, uses a range of crypto-based payment systems means users really can get the optimum price for their ticket, meaning total value for money is ensured.
There are however some compatibility issues that this change may present customers of CheapAir.com. As Klee rightly mentions:
“Our one giant concern is that Bitpay does not support “non-payment protocol wallets” (wallets that aren’t BIP-70 compliant). So if you do not have a compatible wallet, you would have to get one and use it as an intermediate stage for your Bitcoin payment.”
Whilst there is an easy solution to this, the choice of language from Klee does suggest that this solution need only be intermediate, perhaps CheapAir.com are planning on working with BitPay to start supporting non-payment protocol wallets. That, would indeed be an interesting move.
Moreover, the RTTNews report rightly highlights that this apparent move towards cryptocurrency means that staff working for CheapAir.com really need to be up to scratch with their blockchain knowledge, if they wish to handle complaints and answer queries in an efficient and timely manner.
Regardless of all of this, it is nice to see cryptocurrency expanding into new realms. Yes, CheapAir.com have taken Bitcoin payments since 2013, but by opening up and taking new currencies, they may very well find that the popularity of their service grows significantly.