British Airways has clarified its social media policy for employees and from what I can gather, the clarification is totally reasonable and necessary (and represents nothing new or particularly strict). Crews who film and promote themselves on company time are still on notice that such conduct is not permitted.
British Airways Reminds Employees Of Its Reasonable Social Media Policy…
The reality of our social media world is that many people post updates and snaps from their life…throughout the day and whether at work or play. There’s a fine line between harmless self-promotion and compromising your duty in order to get that perfect snap or video.
One of the great advantages to working for an airline or knowing someone who does is the ability to travel the world on a standby basis at discounted rates or as part of your job. In this TikTok world, that also includes posting pictures and video from the journey.
British Airways’ social media policy prohibits employees from taking or posting photos while “professionally engaged” in their jobs. This is not new policy; it simply was not previously enforced.
Explaining the change, British Airways said:
“We’ve given our people clarity about what’s appropriate and when. For example, when our colleagues are flying an aircraft, they’re responsible for the safety of everyone onboard. It’s not unreasonable to ask them to wait until their break to take photos…Nothing has changed in terms of the actual social media guidelines, we have just provided additional clarity about what is and isn’t acceptable. The guidelines ask colleagues not to post to social media when professionally engaged in their job (e.g. serving customers onboard, flying the aircraft).”
This is 100% reasonable.
Again, British Airways did not introduce a new social media policy. Nor did it add new restrictions. Rather, it simply reminded employees that when they are on duty, they should not be taking pictures (i.e. they should be focusing on their duty). Furthermore, it reminded employees of exiting policy including a prohibition of publishing:
- pictures with passengers visible
- details of downroute hotels
- pictures with staff ID cards visible
This does come at a loss for popular social media mavens like Captain Dave, who has built up a huge following by showcasing his cockpit duties.
Well, Dave, thank you for your messages and photo’s over the years, and thank you for your support. PhilGW
— British Airways (@British_Airways) February 1, 2023
But staff can still take pictures on planes, in uniform, and with limited exception (like Captain Dave) continue to post on social media. Just not while on-duty (which does not even prohibit taking pictures during duty breaks).
The fact is, I have full faith in Captain Dave to walk (fly the plane) and chew gum (film with narration) at the same time. That does not make the social media policy unreasonable, though. Perhaps he and others key influencers will be able to negotiate exceptions directly with British Airways (we see direct partnerships between employees and United, for example, like pilot Swayne Martin).
While British Airways has not explained why it chose to clarify its policy or tighten enforcement of it, it comes in an age in which flight attendants are increasingly pushing the line of decency on TikTok and other social media outlets (sorry, no links).
A reminder to be professional and respect duty time is inherently reasonable. Perhaps British Airways should further clarify what is reasonable, but if employees just used common sense I suspect the clarification would not have been reasonable in the first place.
BA’s “new” social media is policy is not new at all. Instead, the airline simply reminded employees that pictures and video should not be taken while performing duties.
Flight attendants can still promote thier OnlyFans accounts, but must do so on their own time…and cannot show their badges or other passengers in their photos. I don’t understand the outrage we are hearing from so many BA employees today.
this is interesting as United, for example, seems happy to have their airline showcased by employees like this pilot and others https://www.youtube.com/@SwayneMartinPilot/videos
Correct – I was thinking about Swayne as I wrote this post.
Quite the life him and his partner have. I wonder if United comps him for the promotion or if it’s all on him? Also I saw some footage from the new training center last night from this FA https://youtu.be/I9LFUqp540g?t=207
Swayne is producing less than a dozen videos per year. All of which are well produced. None of them show him while actually on duty. Occasionally he films on an aircraft, but always before boarding (and I assume United arranges for the aircraft to be available early for him to do so). There’s also a real business impetus for this from United’s perspective – ensuring a robust pipeline of young pilots coming to the airline.
I love Captain Dave and hope he can find a way to continue doing what he has been doing, but the business case for BA is much less clear than it is for United/Swayne.
Does BA not need a robust pipeline of young pilots coming to the airline?
I think that the enforcement of the rules has been and will continue to be selective. BA pay their cabin crews ridiculously low salaries and the labour market in/around London remains very tight. They simply cannot afford to annoy staff on a large scale by Draconian approaches to people management. I am convinced that they will be turning a blind eye to those merely violating the letter of the policy and only disciplining the most egregious of offenders.
I agree. I personally know two flight attendants, one B6 and one Envoy, who were fired for their social media posts, but others have full leeway. But that is life, unfair and selective, right? B6 story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg9HAYiJhR4
whenever a company uses double negatives or the equivalent, i.e. “not unreasonable…” that BA did above, it almost always is unreasonable…
Fortunately cabin crew is still allowed to sit in the galley, sit on the jump seat, and browse the internet or play games for the majority of their time on duty. That’s what they’re really there for.
Ikwym but I have friends in the biz and they have soo much downtime when not actively flying, they can sit on the ground on the plane for hours at a time in between flights, and so on. They can have a 13 hour duty day but only be flying for 3, 4, or 5 of those hours, as an example. So I think the social media policy should allow for harmless stuff, like my friend from JetBlue explained in his video. imo