Travel blogger Matthew Klint was recently escorted off a United Airlines flight to Istanbul from Newark, N.J. His only offense? Snapping a picture of the monitor at his seat. United tells Klint they are launching an internal investigation of the incident. It seems the airline’s policies and procedures and the flight attendant’s actions led to a giant misunderstanding. Klint reports the flight attendant citing FAA regulations against capturing photos on planes, but in fact it is simply a United Airlines policy. Nonetheless, the flight attendant took issue, informed the pilot, and got Klint removed. Klint’s blog has blown up with comments, including many from fellow passengers on the flight.
It’s unclear why the airlines have any policy against photography. Security can’t be the motivation, seeing that the layouts and specifications of jets are attainable from various sources. Perhaps United, like other businesses, put those policies in place in order to provide a safe and private atmosphere for their staff and customers.
Klint was not photographing specifications or people, but the in-seat monitor. The image displayed on the screen could be deemed as intellectual property, but the exact same image is used in United’s ad campaigns and on their website.
We can’t expect every flight attendant to vet each customer’s media as they deplane, so a policy banning all event capturing is probably seen as more convenient. As the citizens of Earth get more connected, though, this type of ban (like the silly prohibition on using wireless devices that the FAA is reviewing now) will be inconvenient and ineffective.