This trip has morphed into an unenviable close.
If I cannot take pictures onboard a flight, my review will be incomplete and much less worthy of your time. Thus, my very sustenance depends upon onboard photography. Sadly, I was warned by two flight crews in the last 48 hours to put my camera away.
Instance #1 – Biman Bangladesh Airlines
I flew Biman over Korean Air because I could not find another Biman business class review online. The carrier offers cheap business class fares and therefore I thought it would be more helpful to more readers (though maybe not to my average reader) to review Biman.
But that review depends upon pictures. As usual, I positioned myself to be the fist to board and upon boarding began to snap pictures of the business class cabin (with my iPhone). I had my Canon DSLR with me, but realize that may be alarming and rarely use it when boarding a flight. Sadly, even the iPhone was alarming and a male FA came up to me and told me onboard photography was prohibited.
Without pictures, this would be a worthless review, but I stopped taking pictures of the cabin: I had already taken several.
During the flight I discreetly took pictures of the meal service, but decided to approach the purser (a different man) toward the end of the flight. I try not to pull the blogger card because I want my experience to resemble what you would receive. Instead, I told the purser that I run a travel agency called Award Expert (true statement) and am flying Biman and taking pictures so my clients have an idea what to expect.
His face lit up and he suggested that I take a picture of the crew and “plaster it over every billboard in London.” He ordered the three other crew members working business class to assemble in the galley and all posed for a photograph:
He welcomed me to take pictures for the remainder of the flight.
Instance #2 – Iberia
The next day (yesterday) I flew Iberia from Madrid to Los Angeles. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, but we used a remote gate to reach our A330-200 and I guessed wrong about which side of the bus would open. Dozens of guests streamed out in front of me and up the air stairs onto the aircraft.
By the time I reached the business class cabin it was already more than half full. I respect the privacy of other passengers and many of my pictures would have captured the faces of others, so I did not take any.
Throughout the flight I took pictures of the meals, menus, IFE, and seat controls. But the cabin is so tight that I did not take a picture of the seat itself until after we landed in Los Angeles.
Upon landing, I waited for the other business class passengers to exit then began taking pictures of the cabin. But moments later, a FA came up to me and told me to stop immediately.
She claimed that I was not allowed to take pictures without written permission from Iberia. She then demanded to know who gave me permission to take pictures. Furthermore, she added–
“It is illegal to take pictures on the ground of an airport in the United States”
Then I knew she was full of it.
I asked if she would like to know why I was taking pictures and she replied, “I really don’t care. You cannot take any.” I told her that there were no crewmembers or passengers in my pictures. She didn’t care.
I approached the purser and she backed up her FA. The previous evening I had flown an Iberia A340 from London to Madrid with the same seats and captured many great shots/angles (without issue). Seeing no point in creating a scene, I left the aircraft. Both (who had been very friendly during the flight) hung their heads down and said nothing to me as I departed.
Maybe the FA was just in a rush to get out. As I waited on the curb for my ride home I noticed she was inhaling cigarettes. 11.5 hours is a long flight…
I get that people don’t understand why we (airline bloggers) take pictures on airplanes. I just wish Iberia had handled the situation like Biman did. Unless they are trying to cover up an inferior product, airlines should be very thrilled to get the publicity that comes with a trip report. I’ll soon publish reviews of both the Biman and Iberia experiences and note that I enjoyed both flights. In fact, both flights exceeded expectations. But the Iberia experience is marred now by the petty post-flight photo incident.
So an FA for an airline based in Spain was reciting US law? Awesome.
Iberia has the worse crew in Europe, imo. They are borderline rude but does not suffer from the powertrips that some american FAs possess.
And ironically speaking I just came back from a international flight with AA and the crew could not have been friendlier and nicer.
That is the biggest problem with airline personnel today: they make their own rules!!! And if you don’t comply with whatever nonsense they just invented you are considered a threat to the National security and you will end up beaten like Mr. Dao. You were lucky she did not demand you to erase the pictures or call the police.
@ Matthew — You’ve become a worldwide trouble-maker! 🙂
Ha, that Purser on the Biman flight was the same purser I had on a flight from Dubai to Sylhet in Biz class. He became mad when he saw what he thought to be alcohol bottle but in reality was just tonic water. Then he slept the rest of the way on a biz class seat. Interesting encounter!
Recently flew Wow, AirEuropa and Iberia. By far the worst crews were Iberia. Inattentive, uncaring and downright rude. They left a lot to be desired.
Sadly, your experience with both Biman and Iberia match mine: officious cabin crews ruined what would have been delightful flights (other than the 15 hour delay on Biman). I wish you well on your future flights.
I was a flight attendant for 37 years (Braniff International, Eastern and USAir/USAirways) and, frankly, I was thrilled to have my photo taken. My, how the world has changed.
BTW … the lady on the left looks vaguely familiar to me .
Sounds like the IB FAs pulled a page from the AA/DL/UA playbook by making up rules to get rid of you, then subtly playing the “national security” card to force you to comply with the made up rules. My guess is they were both in a hurry for their cigarette break as you suggest…
I had no problems taking photos on Iberia in March. However, one flight attendant was the rudest flight attendant I’ve ever encountered. When I asked to try a different wine, he ignored me and poured the one that I already had. He also did not provide the nuts and olives that other flight attendants provided for the customers that they were serving. Once another flight attendant (the purser, I believe) realized this, she took care of me for the rest of the flight, and it was great.
Matthew, do you think reaching out to the airline in twitter a few days before the flight is a solution? Then printing it out and having it at hand, just in case…
Your fellow blogger here, who has also encountered this issue (the worst being in TAP biz class).
Hi Igor, I do think that would have helped. The FAs asked me if I had “permission” to take pictures. That probably would have done the trick.
Well, since i have a IB flight tomorrow, i might as well use your correspondence with IB, haha. In my experience, this solely depends on the particular FA, not the airline.
Last year I flew from BOS to MAD with IB in J, I had no issue taking pictures with my camera and the crew was really good, a really nice flight overall. Was I just lucky ?
Not sure if you got lucky, but Seth (Wandering Aramean blog) was also denied this week–
I’m an airline pilot. Ex Virgin Atlantic 747-400 Captain. I was pulled up by airport police at LAX for taking photos of our own aircraft during the pre flight inspection. It’s illegal apparently. I put my camera away and said ok, thanks. Because… well you know, who cares either way?
You’re a blogger. I know you think you’re extremely important in the sphere of travel, some may not agree. Get over yourself perhaps? You’re making a huge deal over nothing. I believe you were deplaned on United over the same thing, right? Now, that’s ridiculous I would agree (even though you mentioned the word terrorist on an airplane)
Thanks for writing. One important point I would make. You state, “It’s illegal apparently” in terms of taking picture of aircraft at LAX.
It is not. So often, police officers, airport staff, and FAs make up rules/laws out of fear or because they cannot understand why one would want to take pictures.
You asked, “Who cares either way?” I do. This is how I make my living.
Where can I buy “Cannon” cameras?
This happened to a few YouTube bloggers recently on tiny Eastern Airways who launched a 3o minute flight from Aberdeen to Wick John O’ Groats. No people in the pics,