When paying by card flight attendants usually ask to see your ID, to verify that the card in fact belongs to you. However it seems weird to me that pretty much no other merchants ever ask to see your ID, even when conducting purchases for thousands of euros (e.g. at IKEA).

So why do airlines insist on verifying your ID when paying by card? I understand that there's (usually) no Internet to verify the card balance on the plane (as suggested by TonyK), but how would one's ID help them out in case the card is empty?


To summarize the comments and also corroborate with my own experience: this is simply not general practice. I have paid with my card on Norwegian, Norwegian long haul, Aer Lingus, easyJet and perhaps more that I forgot without ever needing an ID. @Relaxed said the same.

@TonyK suggests all off line transactions should come with an ID check. Maybe the gateway pushes for such but as far as I am aware no such authorization type exists and some source for it would be very welcome. Also, this would suggest some responsibility lies with the flight attendants to recognize a fake ID. That's just not realistic.

I would suggest this is simply a dumb psychological trick to keep people straight.

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    In the U.S., Visa and MasterCard merchant agreements prohibit the merchant from requiring an I.D. The merchant may ask for one but may not require it in order to complete the transaction. American Express has no such prohibition. I've never been asked for an ID while on a flight. I always refuse in a store because I don't want the clerk to see my home address. Merchant Agreements vary by country. In the U.S., MasterCard has an online form in order to file complaints against merchants requiring I.D. – Dave D Oct 7 '16 at 20:08
  • @DaveD On multiple occasions hotel front desks told me the bank required a copy of my passport... I knew that smelled! – chx Oct 7 '16 at 21:50
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    many hotels require ID to check-in. As long as a business ID's everyone, including cash customers, then it's no problem. But if they're checking ID to confirm it's your credit card, for MC and Visa in the U.S., then they're probably violating their merchant agreement. The exception is if the card isn't signed. – Dave D Oct 7 '16 at 23:41
  • Yes, of course, but they photocopied my passport claiming the bank requires it. This happened several times. – chx Oct 8 '16 at 3:11

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