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Qantas Bans Inflight Passenger Photos and Videos Without Consent

The days of being unknowingly filmed and ending up on a stranger’s TikTok may be drawing to a close

by Samir Kadri

December 6, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Qantas

Australian flag carrier Qantas has announced that passengers are prohibited from taking photos or videos of other passengers or crew members during their flights unless they have prior permission.

The new rule aims to protect the privacy of everyone on board and prevent the spread of viral content on social media. This content could range from disruptive passengers causing commotion to inappropriate behavior.

Photo: Qantas, Airbus A330-300. Courtesy of Soheb Zaidi / Unsplash

On November 8, a new clause was added to section 12.1 of the airline’s policy regarding passengers’ conduct during flights. The clause states that to ensure maximum comfort, safety, and security for all passengers, every passenger must comply with the following requirements and any other reasonable directions given by the flight crew while on board.

After listing its usual, fairly standard rules and regulations for passengers onboard, such as complying with instructions from cabin crew, keeping their seatbelt fastened while seated, and refraining from smoking or vaping, the new clause entered into Qantas’ conditions of carriage reads as follows: “Seek consent before filming or photographing Qantas Group staff, contractors or other customers.”

Qantas joins a growing list of airlines that have introduced a policy to prevent passengers from capturing footage of others without consent.

This move follows the footsteps of other airlines, such as Lufthansa, which also prohibits filming of others on board. The German carrier’s policy states that taking photographs and filming on board is only allowed if the privacy rights of people being photographed can be protected and ensured. However, the crew has the authority to prohibit photography and filming at any time.

Photo: Courtesy of Lufthansa

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia’s ruling empowers its cabin crew to decide whether passengers can film on their planes. It states passengers must “use cameras or photographic devices (including mobile phones) for personal use only. You must comply with the directions of the flight crew when using cameras or photographic devices while on board.”

In the U.S., United, Delta, and Southwest Airlines have all rolled out similar restrictions on photography and filming. At the same time, American Airlines stresses that “the use of still and video cameras, film or digital, is permitted only for recording of personal events.”

Carriers operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including Emirates and Etihad Airways, have had a long-standing ban on onboard photography and videography due to national privacy laws.

Ultimately, airlines clamping down on wanton photography and videography allows passengers to relax, knowing their faces won’t be plastered across the internet without their knowledge.