Michael Rosen sued Continental Airlines after he was unable to buy a set of headphones or alcohol using cash on a flight from Honolulu to Newark in 2010.
He sued for breach of contract, unlawful discrimination against low-income people who don't possess credit cards and violation of New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.
A lower court judge dismissed the case and Rosen appealed.
In Monday's appeals court ruling, the three-judge panel concluded that federal airline deregulation law pre-empts claims under state law.
It also ruled Rosen didn't have standing to bring a class action on behalf of low-income people.