What started as a photo of an airplane seat may have cost Matthew Klint his flight after airline staff with United Airlines booted him from the plane.
Klint, a freelance travel writer, was flying business class to Istanbul from Newark, N.J., on Valentine's Day when he snapped a photo of the plane's Continental BusinessFirst seat with his iPhone. According to Klint, the photo was going to be part of a review on his travel website, UPGRD. Klint's actions attracted a flight attendant who promptly asked him to turn off his camera because no photography of the cabin is allowed as per United's “Onboard Photo and Video” guidelines.
Klint says he was compliant and put his iPhone away, while the flight attendant went off to tell another passenger to stop taking photos of the cabin. But according to a post on his website documenting the incident, Klint also felt the urge to explain his actions to the attendant:
"I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn't think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog."
Things got heated moments later when a Global Service rep asked Klint to get off the plane at the pilot's request. After a confrontational conversation with the pilot, Klint alleged the flight attendant had lied and left the plane for another connecting flight, notes PetaPixel. Similar stories of Klint's confrontation with staff have popped up on travel blogs, like Just Another Points Traveler. The blog's author, Angelina Aucello, wrote that she was shocked to hear taking photos on board a plane was "illegal," adding she's had flight attendants volunteer to take photos of her while on a plane.
When it comes to on-board photography, the rules and enforcement of them fall into the hands of airlines and their attendants, according to the Association of Flight Attendants–CWA, a flight attendants union, leaving many travellers confused as to whether or not taking pictures on a plane is illegal.
United Airlines said that they're aware of Klint's post documenting the incident and have since reached out to him to fully understand what happened on board the plane. In an interview with NBC, Rahsaan Johnson, a rep with United Airlines, said the restriction, which has been in place since 2010, is mostly in place to protect those on board the plane.
When it comes to photography within an airport, the TSA's official blog says answers vary from airport to airport, but in general, photographers are allowed to take shots of security checkpoints and screening areas so long as it does not interfere with their work. The agency suggests calling a specific airport ahead of time to find out.
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