Court Upholds Airline Credit Card Requirement for In-Flight Purchases

April 8, 2013, Written By Justin Hefner

It used to be commonplace on flights to pay cash for an alcoholic beverage.

Not anymore. Many airlines have now switched to a cashless policy, requiring purchases only by a debit or credit card.

The non-cash requirement on airlines was recently upheld in a New Jersey court decision that could have a ripple effect on legal challenges across the country.

The case, Rosen vs. Continental Airlines Inc., involved a man who during a flight from Honolulu to Newark attempted to buy a headset and an alcoholic drink with cash. The flight attendant said the airline only accepted payments by debit or credit card. The plaintiff didn’t have a debit or credit card.

The plaintiff sued Continental Airlines, alleging that the airline’s cashless policy was a form of “discrimination against low-income individuals” and caused him to suffer “severe mental anguish and emotional distress” by not being able to enjoy in-flight amenities he desired. He argued that its credit card requirement for in-flight purchases violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

New Jersey’s Appellate Division rejected the man’s lawsuit and sided with a lower court ruling that the man’s claims were pre-empted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act, a 1978 law which prohibits states from enforcing a law or regulation related to price, route or service of an air carrier.

Continental’s credit or debit card policy for in-flight purchases is standard on many major carriers today, including Delta, United and US Airways.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 8, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Justin Hefner

Justin Hefner is in the education field and has written about a number of financial issues. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Tech University and a Masters in Education from Texas State University.
View all posts by Justin Hefner