The First Airline I’ve Flown With A “No Pictures” Policy

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Hello from Tashkent, Uzbekistan! Matthew and I just flew Uzbekistan Airways’ 787 business class from New York to Tashkent. I’ll have more on the actual flight shortly, but first wanted to write about a situation we faced on our flight.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post about how I approach taking pictures on planes. After all, one of the things I do for a living is review airlines, and I rely on being able to (discreetly) take pictures in order to do so.

In my millions of flown miles over the years, I’ve never flown an airline that strictly prohibits photography, at least as far as I know. Once on Pakistan Airlines a flight attendant asked us to stop taking pictures, but she wasn’t actually the business class flight attendant, and the rest of the crew had no issues with our picture taking.

Well, today we boarded our flight from New York to Tashkent, and a minute after starting to snap pictures I was told “no photos!” I figured it was a flight attendant on a power trip, but nope…

The safety card even specifically indicates that photos and videos aren’t allowed, and it’s also in the safety video.

Now here’s the thing — we took this flight solely in order to be able to review Uzbekistan Airways, and we paid dearly for it (and we were about the only ones, since almost everyone else in business class was operationally upgraded due to economy being oversold). It would be a huge waste of money to have booked this but not be able to publish a proper review.

Of course this is a delicate balance. On one hand, you don’t want to get arrested or get kicked off the plane. On the other hand, if you get the crew on your side enough, maybe they’ll at least turn a blind eye to your picture taking, realizing your intentions aren’t bad? I’ve seen a few other reviews of Uzbekistan Airways, and none of them mention any issues with taking pictures on planes (it seems there’s an issue with taking pictures outside of planes, but that’s different).

So what did we do? We already had almost all the cabin pictures we needed at this point, so I said to the flight attendant “we love trying different airlines and specifically took this flight to experience Uzbekistan Airways and the beautiful new 787. When the meal comes, is it okay if we take pictures? I promise we won’t have crew or passengers in pictures.”

She sort of acknowledged what I said without fully saying “yes,” but I figured that was enough. If we were told again to stop taking pictures we would have stopped, but since she acknowledged what I said, I figured we could at least claim to be confused if they yelled at us again.

So for the rest of the flight we subtly took pictures with our iPhones. While we tried to hide it from the crew, I imagine they must have noticed. Several hundred pictures later I think we managed to put together a pretty comprehensive photo selection. The pictures might not be quite as good as usual given the secretive nature of our picture taking, but I’m pleased with it.

Unfortunately this makes me a lot less excited about taking a day trip on Uzbekistan Airways’ IL-114s, though.

Bottom line

Officially Uzbekistan Airways seems to have a policy against photography. However, I have seen a few reviews of them with pictures, so it seems like it’s only selectively enforced. Even though we were off to a bad start, we managed to snap several hundred pictures.

Stay tuned for details on the Uzbekistan Airways experience, which was, well… you’ll see.

  1. Bummer! But I think you’ll manage some type of review with “several hundred pictures”

  2. I love how you took a picture of the “no pictures” safety card.

    Hopefully they don’t have a “remove from the flight at any point” policy like Saudia. Who knows, maybe the Il-114 doors can be opened mid-flight… 😉

  3. I suspect you will encounter a lot of “no photo” situations on the ground as well. Airports, stations, government building are off-limits or may become off-limit just so that a police officer has a reason to extort some money from you. Please be careful. After all this is a country where protesters are killed by hundreds and suspected islamists were boiled alive by the former president. I doubt the current one is a much nicer guy.

  4. Flown Uzbekistan Airways several times, also the IL114…. Yep, they do not like taking pictures if they see it. But if they do not see it… 😉

  5. This does not come as a surprise to me.
    Some countries and airlines are just really againt’s people taking photos.

    I think we all just live in a relaxed culture where we are used to documenting every day life. But not on Uzbekistan Airlines.

  6. Uzebekistan is about the best country to be in when the war between north Korea and USA breaks out.

  7. The safety card, crew instructions and safety video prohibited photos, yet you decided to flaunt that rule and continue taking them “discretely”.

    How exactly do you justify this as acceptable?

  8. Don’t mean to scare you, ’cause u truly enjoy reading your reviews, but you won’t be able to take pictures on the IL 144, its such a shitty aircraft and sooo noisy, you’ll be shitting your pants for fright, and will need both your hands to hold onto the armrests or bite your nails, so you won’t have the luxury of holding your camera in your hand to take pictures even if the crew lets you. I flew an IL 144 for the last time in 2003 from Vladifreakingvostock, F.E. Russia to Nigata, Japan. What of horror.

  9. Last year in a Korean Air flight, from ICN to DPS, the flight attendant approached me when I was boarding and snapchating, and said “no photos”, she even asked to look at my photos and delete it. But it was just seats, no crew involved. For the rest of the flight I took care to not show my phone.

  10. Wow, I have never encountered this policy but you’re not the first one to share this experience. I look forward to your review.

  11. I think you and Matthew must have freaked out the flight crew. The sight of the two if you bounding onto the plane first thing and snapping through the cabin I’m sure was their first time experiencing such a thing. Who can say where you were from? Why two men? Etc…

    But calmly and apologetically saying you were just there to see their beautiful plane and do them no harm or interference did the trick.

    Good luck with the rest if the trip! I look forward to seeing Uzbekistan again and reading both your reviews. I spent 12 days there last year and loved it!

  12. At one end of the spectrum – Uzbekistan; and at the opposite end we have Singapore Airlines, which will gladly allow you to take photos and even offer to take some of you for you!

  13. Draw the airline review in crayon. That way they’ll get a good taste of what an embarrassing policy results into!

  14. I would like to listen, read as to how taking pictures violates safety. As you stated no person will be identified. FEAR:
    False Evidence Appearing Real.

  15. Had the same experience with them. But what was even worse, was that a soldier at the ground at Tashkent approached me when I was taking pictures, and wanted to see how I delete em all. So, yeah. But I managed to make some review videos.

  16. Me and a friend got kicked out of a supermarket in Kazakhstan for taking a video. It was actually a very nice supermarket in a nice mall in Almaty. They yelled at us and then kicked us out.

  17. I like how you said “I promise we won’t have crew or passengers in pictures.”

    One time I was flying JAL’s First Class with my aunt, and the couple in front of us were taking tons of selfies. They then started taking photos of each other. This went on for 10+ minutes. Based on the angle, we were in all of the photos. My aunt, being a very private person, kindly asked the flight attendant to make them stop.

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