Has KLM Changed Their Onboard Photography Policy?

Filed Under: KLM

Reader Dennis emailed to point me to an InsideFlyer story about how KLM has changed their onboard photography policy. Dennis noted in the email that photos are no longer allowed on KLM, though that’s not quite my interpretation. Per InsideFlyer, KLM has added the following disclaimer to their inflight magazine, under “house rules:”

KLM respects the privacy of her customers and staff. Therefore it is not allowed to make any photo or movie recording or any person on board of our aircraft without the explicit consent of the persons concerned.

To me this is a bit different than banning photography onboard, and rather KLM is simply adding a similar policy to what many other airlines have. For example, American has the following photography policy:

Use of still and video cameras, film or digital, is permitted only for recording personal events. Photography or video recording of airline personnel, equipment, or procedures is strictly prohibited.

It’s interesting how American protects their employees and “equipment,” but has no rule against photographing other passengers.

Meanwhile United has the following policy, which states you can only take pictures to capture personal events, and can’t record other customers:

United Airlines strives to provide customers with a safe and pleasant travel experience. The use of any device for photography or audio and/or video recording is permitted only for capturing personal events. Any photography or recording of other customers or airline personnel without their express prior consent is strictly prohibited. Any photography (still or video) or recording (audio or video) of airline procedures or aircraft equipment is strictly prohibited, except to the extent prior approval has been specifically granted by United Airlines. This policy is not a contract and does not create any legal rights or obligations.

I’m sure Dr. Dao is quite pleased that someone decided to film his incident on United.

In my experience KLM is among the most photo-friendly airlines out there, and I doubt this new policy represents much of a change in terms of taking pictures onboard. Furthermore, I think this is more about the intent than anything. In other words, if you’re intentionally taking pictures of a person without their permission (which one should never do), then this is something they can point to in asking you to stop.

However, this policy doesn’t change the ability to take pictures of the seat, food, entertainment, etc. And if you happen to have someone in a picture in the distance, I doubt the airline is going to call the cops on you.

Personally I’m not worried about this new policy, though I realize others may interpret it differently.

  1. These policies don’t stop people from filming when there is a disturbance, and in those circumstances, nobody is pausing to get permission from any passenger or crew….it just happens and everyone around is naturally focused on the incident itself, and nobody is stopping anyone from recording.

  2. Well, if you happened to accidentally capture an employee’s face in your photos or videos, I suppose you could substitute a CNN meme before posting online!

  3. I have a different take. I think it’s a combination of the companies and labor unions complaining about people taking pictures of them not doing their jobs or not well and this ia their reaction.

    Sorry, according to all the rules above, you would not be able to film Dr. Dao.
    Not a coincidence.
    Now, whether its’ actually legally enforceable in any jurisdiction is another story. An airplane is not a private home nor even vehicle.
    Whatever actions you do are considered doing them in pubic and therefore…

  4. Is it not strange to have a policy that states what the world have as law.
    I dont recall any country that allows you to take pictures of a single person without consent.
    Might be why so many interpreted differently, the policy makes no sense.

  5. Hmm, but it did state photographing / taking vids of their equipment and procedures are not allowed ? So does that cover taking photos of the cabin in flight , or a wing view of the airplane ?

  6. This mumbo jumbo about protecting privacy is inane. Sorry, we are living in a new time and the “right to solitude” mast be reevaluated to conform to new circumstances.

  7. Anders the law is clear on when you can take a picture of someone without their consent. Google, “expectation of privacy.” It’s situation specific but in general if someone is in a public place you aren’t breaking the law by taking a picture of them.

    Is an airplane a public place? We won’t know until someone takes a picture, there is a dispute and it comes in front of a court.

    So if one of the airlines with these rules decides to do something about somebody taking a picture that’s when we’ll know if these restrictions are enforceable.

  8. @Steve
    US law states that an airplane is private property and the owner states its own rules.
    But yes it is true that public places is free for all, except when that person expects a certain amount of privacy in public then the need for consent arise.

  9. other bloggers, like, Sam Chiu, just film random passengers. One of his videos involves filming a woman next to him for about a minute being offered newspapers and orange juice. I hope policies like this at least enable passengers in similar situations to ask people like Sam to stop filming them. I asked Sam directly on his IG why he does this and hey, the comment was deleted.

  10. People are going to film and photograph what they want. You can’t stop them. Stop trying.

  11. For bloggers it’s going to be little difficult in taking permission prior from the fellow passengers. But overall it’s a good move to respect the privacy of other travellers. I hope this happens in India too where we daily face such situations on flights.

  12. I am the author of the article mentioned. I agree that this policy is probably not going to change a lot for passengers flying KLM. I think the airline has added this statement pro forma to the house rules such that they can refer to it when necessary. There have been some cases recently where passengers filmed incidents on board KLM. As involved crew, I can imagine it is not so nice when your face is in a video gone viral for the wrong reasons. Also, I can imagine some passengers may complain if other PAX shove a camera in their face. As long as filming/photographing does not hinder crew or bother other passengers, I’m sure you’ll be fine recording!

  13. @Anders
    ” I dont recall any country that allows you to take pictures of a single person without consent.”

    That country is the United States. You do not need permission to photograph anyone in public, ever. That includes children. Of course, if someone asks you not to, you shouldnt, but thats common decency, not the law.

    Airlines are private businesses, yes, but they are common carriers operating privately owned public spaces. That puts them in a special category which means they have less of an ability to put in restrictions than a fully private business could.

    Public transit companies have put in photography restrictions and then lost in court. I believe if a US airline forced someone to stop taking photos, and they were sued in a US court, they would lose. This would also be true of other common carriers, such as Greyhound or Amtrak.

    Other examples of privately owned public spaces include building plazas, outdoor malls, and hotel lobbies.

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