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BE CAREFUL: NEW RULES FOR AIRLINES on Photos and Video Recording on Planes

A couple of profile incidents have the airline industry struggling.

Though incidents like the United Airlines situation with Dr. Dao tend to hurt the specific airline, they also impact the industry as a whole.

So according to SF Gate, the airline industry proposes dramatic changes that likely won’t be perceived well by the public.

rules for airlinesWithout the shocking video, it’s unlikely that the world would have learned or cared about the violent manhandling of a 69-year-old man on a plane last month.

The outrage on social media, the mea culpa by an airline CEO, the promise to treat customers better — none of it would have happened.

The passengers who shot those videos on a United Express plane in Chicago violated United’s policy on photography. By the letter of the airline’s law, they could have been ordered off the plane.

Under United’s policy, customers can take pictures or videos with small cameras or cell phones “provided that the purpose is capturing personal events.” Filming or photographing other customers or airline employees without their consent is prohibited. American, Delta and Southwest have similar policies.

Passengers are accustomed to using their phones to take photos and videos that they can upload to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Airline rules on photography are sporadically enforced, but passengers should read them in the in-flight magazines because there can be consequences.

The public clamors for protection from police with video cams. Ironically, the airlines looks to prevent people from documenting their mistreatment of the public.

The article showcases this policy in full effect.

This month, a United ticket agent ordered a passenger’s reservation canceled as he filmed her while disputing a $300 baggage fee in the New Orleans airport. After Navang Oza posted his video online, United apologized, saying that the video “does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer.”

In April, a JetBlue Airways crew called airport police to meet a man who they said continued to record a selfie video during a security-sensitive time in flight, while the cockpit door was opened. Michael Nissensohn insists that he wasn’t recording the procedure.

“I told them there is no rule against talking a selfie on a plane,” Nissensohn says. He says he was ordered off the plane and held up at LaGuardia airport in New York for more than an hour before being let go without charges. JetBlue declined to comment. A spokesman says the airline doesn’t publish its photography policy for security reasons.

The airline industry is government.

From the moment people enter through security at an airport, they suspend their rights.

The only way to keep the people who work for us in check is via video. And as recent develops on airlines suggest, video is necessary.

A travel blogger explains his perceptions of the airline industry.

With airline customer service in decline, video is the only way that passengers can make sure they are treated fairly, says Gary Leff, a travel blogger who has criticized the airlines over the issue.

“The TSA allows more photography at the checkpoint than the airlines allow on board their planes,” he says.

The Transportation Security Administration says that photography at checkpoints is fine if people don’t take images of monitors or interfere with screeners. Travel bloggers say, however, that people have had run-ins with TSA officers, and you should expect to be questioned if you snap more than a casual photo of a companion.

Lawyers who specialize in First Amendment or travel law say airlines generally cannot limit photography or video recording in an airport because it is a public space. But airlines have more power on planes because as private parties they are not bound by the First Amendment.

Rules for airlines: So what rights do we have?

Joseph Larsen, a media-law attorney in Houston says,

“They are within their rights to establish these rules, they are within their rights to throw you off the aircraft if you continue filming.”

However, he goes on to say that there is no law against taking photos or video on an airplane. Further, it is unlikely that anyone would face legal jeopardy for taking pictures of an altercation on a plane. Nor will they likely get in trouble for filming their dispute with an airline employee. Such is the nature of things today.

Larsen commented on the Dao incident:

“If you see something going on that is a matter of legitimate public interest,” he says, go ahead and capture it even if you don’t have express permission to film another passenger. The man who was roughed up by airport officers on the United Express plane, David Dao, “has already got his settlement with United,” Larsen says. “He is probably pretty happy that was documented.”

Airlines are not likely to risk more bad press. But it’s a good thing to know their policies.



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