Flight Attendant Tells Passengers Not To Videotape

Passengers being removed from flights by law enforcement is pretty common, so it usually only makes the news when passengers are especially uncooperative.

Here’s an interesting situation from a Delta Connection flight, not because of how the passengers were acting, but because the flight attendant got on the PA to tell passengers not to videotape it — “ladies and gentlemen, this is not an opportunity to video anything. So if you can stop videotaping that would be extremely appreciated.”

Interesting. On one hand, disobeying flight attendant orders violates FAA regulations, so if you kept filming you could be removed from the plane. Similarly, airlines do often have policies against filming onboard.

On the other hand, we almost always see footage of inflight “situations,” and ultimately that’s a good thing. If the disturbance escalates, the video could always be used as evidence of what happened.

I’ve been on many flights where passengers were removed, but I’ve never heard the request not to videotape it, despite many people doing so.

Was the flight attendant actually making an order, or merely a recommendation?

(Tip of the to John DELTA)

Comments

  1. The police are public – videotaping them ‘doing their job’, as long one doesn’t interfere is legal and there is a lot of case law to back that up.

    I guess maybe being on a plane changes things, maybe not.

  2. Contrary to what they might think, flight attendants do not have limitless power. The FARs definitely require that passengers comply with crewmember instructions regarding issues that are covered in the FARs (no smoking, seat belts, safety and security, alcohol service, etc.). FAR 121.580 is a bit broader, stating that “[n]o person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated under this part.”

    However, given that (1) videography by passengers is most definitely not covered in the FARs (at least now that handheld electronic devices can be used gate-to-gate, and (2) it would be hard to argue that recording from your seat is interfering with a crewmember, I think you’d be safe from any sort of civil or criminal charges. Of course, by angering the FA, you may sill find yourself not flying on that particular departure…

  3. Seems to me there was a mighty important “if” in her statement.

    No way could an “if you can stop, that would be appreciated” be construed as an order.

    Ever.

  4. > we almost always see footage of inflight “situations,” and ultimately that’s a good thing. If the disturbance escalates.

    Some people dislike being captured on film, especially if the disturbance escalates. This is something to consider before you take out your smartphone.

  5. In Europe there’s no law forbidding you to videotape inside an airplane, once I was flying with Emirates and flight attendant approached me and said I must stop taking photos inside the plane, when I asked her “what will happen if I don’t stop” she said I might get arrested when we land in UAE and she can’t do nothing now, luckily I wasn’t flying all the way to UAE and got off in Belgrade, for the whole flight she or other attendant was staring at me and were so unpleasant, lucky for me I’m loud and don’t hesitate to use fine curse words to insult you without braking any law so I can imagine how they felt after two hours of being punished for depriving my rights. And for the arabic countries I’m not surprised that they might arrest me if I went all the way down those people are savages living in private states with no rights to live your life, alcohol forbidden, women can’t show themselves, drive a car and other nonsense, why would anybody go to those uncivilized parts of the world, I know I won’t, there are Australia, North America, Western Europe why would I go to filthy Asia, infested Africa or criminal South America, no thanks!

  6. @Andrew: You are absolutely correct. There is nothing in FAR Part 121 that gives flight attendants authority to prohibit a passenger from video recording on board an aircraft. Nor are there similar stipulations in Parts 135 or 91. However, there are several CFRs under Part 49 which one could argue DO give FAs authority to restrict use of electronic devices if they deem them a risk to safety or security. If the FA in question had seen just an handful of the videos posted to the youtubes they’d recognize how easily the presence of a recording device can escalate a situation. Unfortunately my copy of the FAR/AIM doesn’t detail FAR Part 49 but I believe it’s either CFR 1534, 1544, or 1554 which covers onboard safety and security and gives broad authority to the cabin crew to insure a safe cabin environment. Bottom line: If the FA asks you to put it away, kindly comply.

    @ Richard: there is no question of constitutionality here. Respect the fact that the FA has received training in handling these types of situations and knows what is necessary to keep things under control. Respect the fact that the FA is the voice of the Captain, the airline, the FAA, and the industry as a whole. Accept that this is not going to be your fifteen seconds of youtube fame and put the phone down.

  7. Could this be a “COMPANY POLICY” that is being followed by the Flight Attendant?
    “FAR’s and Company Policy are two different things to go by.

  8. There is a US Supreme Court case that said recently you can videotape government agents in the performance of their duties so the order from the flight attendant would be a violation of that decision and if Delta Connection ejected a video recorder prior to the mandate that all electronics need to be turned off for take-off/landing protocol, then Delta would be negligent.

  9. Just like Lucky can moderate comments on his blog, Delta is a private company and it can do whatever it wants in terms of preventing you from video taping things happening on their flight.

    People always forget that the First Amendment only prevents the GOVERNMENT from limiting free speech. It says nothing about private citizens or corporations doing so.

  10. yes, but you do get into issues of entanglement since these are private actors clothed with governmental authority. Nonetheless, just turn off the camera if asked. It’s the polite thing to do in my view unless there is something extremely interesting going on.

  11. What are the laws around consent for video taping? Recording a phone call for example requires consent from both parties in many locales. What about privacy for anyone else you may capture on film who is in the area and can’t leave due the confined space on a plane?

  12. @Segment, Consent probably isn’t necessary for videotaping as a plane would likely be construed as a public place where you have a pretty low expectation of privacy. Some states like NY and CA have slightly stronger privacy protections in place, but in most places there would be no violation.

  13. “People always forget that the First Amendment only prevents the GOVERNMENT from limiting free speech. It says nothing about private citizens or corporations doing so”

    That doesn’t really make sense in situations like this as there’s no real demarkation between what’s public and what’s private. On the one hand it’s a public space; but on the other hand, the aircraft is owned by Delta. And there’s also an officer on board so it’s legal to film her/him, regardless of who owns the aircraft. I think the real question in terms of appropriateness is not so much whether it’s appropriate to film, but rather whether it’s appropriate to post the filmed material online.

    Does anyone know what the cause for the passenger’s removal was?

  14. Also, if my mother was watching the video I can guarantee her first comment would be:
    “why was the police officer chewing gum?”

  15. Sick of flight attendants thinking they are god. half of them would not be qualified, nor have the people skills to answer my companies’ phones. These recordings, and many more of policies, crimes, accidents, etc have gone on to do great good in society. I would think usually the only person who does not want something like this recorded is the person doing something wrong.

  16. Only happen in USA owned airlines! the flight attendants in US airlines are so bossy and rude compared to the asian airlines.
    Never experience this or such a “bossy attitude” from asian airlines flight attendants such like in SQ, Cathay, etc.

  17. There are several things at play here:

    1] Adults don’t like being told what to do, ever…If you take issue with this “fact” consider why so many people are flipping out in this comment section about this particular topic…Therefore, many passengers get an attitude when asked/told to comply with various things on a plane if for no other reason then they feel like they get a pass as they aren’t children…Parents, remember this when your kids act out against authority, maybe they have seen you flip out over having to stow your laptop where the government tells airlines they have to be stowed…

    2] Part of electronic devices being allowed gate to gate is that the Capt/FO have the authority at any point and time to instruct the flight attendants to insure that all passengers electronics are turned off…This is a BROAD statement that clearly falls under the pilots authority on the plane…In a case like this one, IF it really became a “crew instruction” it would be easy for the flight attendant to just get the Capt to instruct everyone to stop videoing…Like many commenters have already indicated, taking on the validity of this will basically end up with you, the passenger, being left behind…

    3] I fly a lot…The only time that I have seen flight attendants ask someone to stop taking a video is when the passengers are making a video OF the flight attendant…For anyone who wants to invoke “Constitutional Right” here, remember, the Constitution is a –2– way street…If you don’t understand what I mean by that, just imagine how you would feel if you were in the middle of doing your job or dealing with a “situation” and 180 of us all show up and decide to start making a video of you while doing it…

    Understand, I am not saying that the crew is always right, and I am certainly not saying that we are always in the right…I simply believe that when in the air, the crew is the “King” of their particular hill…Is it worth it to me to continue making a video of some idiot when the crew has asked me to stop, just so I can post it on Vine/Twitter/FB/ whatever…??? Ummm, no…

  18. Ditto Gustav- it’s polite! Also without consent, you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit. Pixelation for privacy!

  19. @ Adi_T

    The SCOTUS ruling only held that its unconstitutional for a police officer to tell you to stop filming police activity. It didn’t say anything about DELTA or other private actors telling you to stop filming on their planes/property. If it were only the police officers telling passengers to stop filming, that would be one thing, but the presence of police officers does not trump Delta’s right as a private corporation to control video recordings on their planes.

  20. @Adi_T “Also, if my mother was watching the video I can guarantee her first comment would be:
    “why was the police officer chewing gum?” ”

    That was one of my initial thoughts actually….. glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

  21. Suppose a Delta FA asks a passenger not to film, and says that the passenger will be asked to deplane if he doesn’t stop. The passenger refuses to stop and is forced off. Let’s further suppose that Delta and the FA both acknowledge that it’s not a security issue: they just didn’t want to be filmed.

    Now, presumably Delta is well within its rights to forbid filming during its flights: if you film, Delta will refuse to transport you. But I also assume that there is nothing in the contract of carriage that forbids filming. Perhaps there are words to the effect that a passenger must comply with all crew instructions, but clearly there are limits to this: for instance, a FA can’t demand, just for the hell of it, that a passenger get naked. So where is the “reasonable” line drawn? Could the passenger sue Delta for damages?

  22. Im Flight crew and I politely ask a passenger to stop filming me because im not confortable with this, but he kept that phone in my face. I kindly asked him to delete that video that my face is on, and he refused. What are my rights and what are his rights?

  23. First of all, airplanes ARE NOT public places. They are owned and operated by each airline privately. Each airline is subject to strict rules of safety regulations. Safety and security is an important part of keeping every one safe. There are bad actors out there who don’t need to know everything about our aircraft via social media. Just take a look at the flights where emergencies have occurred recently to see the stupid behavior of people grabbing their cameras and phones to film themselves, completely unconcerned for inhibiting the evacuation process. Seconds mean lives. I don’t come into your office and film you doing your job. Please don’t stick a camera in my face when I’m trying to do mine. Most airlines have policies that prohibit filming inflight to protect everyone concerned. If you have a problem there are plenty of other ways of resolving it.

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