Court Upholds Airline Credit Card Requirement for In-Flight Purchases

April 8, 2013, Written By Justin Hefner
Court Upholds Airline Credit Card Requirement for In-Flight Purchases

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.
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