It’s right there in black, and grey.
This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
En route to the Puerta Vallarta airport just twenty minutes ahead of 1:00pm, ZaydeGiraffe and BubbeGiraffe received a phone call saying that their 5:30pm flight had been cancelled and that they were now rebooked on a new flight with another airlines. A 1:30pm flight. Why another airlines? It seems that Mexicana Airlines, the third oldest airline in the world, had suddenly declared bankruptcy. Without a moment to grab a bite to eat, Bubbe and Zayde found themselves being whisked onto a flight by another carrier.
Unlike Mexicana, which provided free drinks and a meal, this airline had no meal planned for the flight. One could, however, find “a variety of sweet and savory snacks available for purchase.” As long as one had a credit card.
That’s right. This airlines operates “cashless cabins systemwide,” accepting only major credit and debit cards.
I imagine that the overwhelming majority would think nothing of this and hand the plastic right over to the flight attendants. But that is not how we roll in this family. Because our family is comprised of people who have actually read the currency and have a very basic understanding of the United States Coinage Act of 1965. The relevant section reads:
United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.
ZaydeGiraffe wasn’t interested in unloading his pesos; he wanted to pay with US dollar bills.
I won’t speculate what ZaydeGiraffe said as he made a selection and paid with his credit card. It would not be uncharacteristic, however, for someone from our family to point out to the poor, innocent flight attendant that this was in violation of Federal Law.
I’m just saying…
Well. It so happens that we are not the first to wonder about this as I found this very question listed on the FAQ page of the U.S. Treasury website, with the following answer:
This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.
A glaring loophole, don’t you think?