Here’s what you can and can't film in an airport.
Canadian airline Porter Airlines was operating a flight from Boston to Toronto, on the evening of January 5, following the impact of Winter Storm Grayson. The latch door to the luggage compartment wasn’t working, and the plane sat on the tarmac for about two hours before passengers went back inside to the airport terminal.
Inside, the gateside loudspeaker was down and customers had to wait in line to speak with a customer service agent. The situation was, predictably, frustrating for those in the back of the line who had no idea what was going on. So some took out their phones and started recording video.
“At that point, the personnel came from behind the desk and started threatening us to call the police if we don’t delete the videos off of our phones and show evidence that it’s gone from our trash bin,” Kira Wegler, one of the passengers, told Global News.
Most of the passengers deleted their videos for fear of the consequences.
A few days after the incident, Porter Airlines apologized for the “misunderstanding,” saying that the airline employee’s “intention was only to try and enforce what was believed to be an airport policy.”
A media relations officer for Massport (the Massachusetts Port Authority) confirmed that “there is no law or policy that prohibits filming inside Logan Airport, except in secure areas and of security procedures.” Massport’s only stipulations for filming in public area are that it “may not impede passengers or airline operations.”
“While the request to stop filming or delete footage was incorrect, the intention was only to try and enforce what was believed to be an airport policy,” a spokesperson for Porter Airlines told Global News.
There is one loophole airlines have found. Within certain airline agreements (the fine print customers rarely consider when buying a ticket), there are stipulations against filming airline employees. For example, American Airlines’ photography policy strictly prohibits “photography or video recording of airline personnel, equipment, or procedures.” United, Delta and Southwest have similar policies.
Airlines may also forbid video or photography on the aircraft “if taking video has the potential to affect safety or the personal comfort of others on board,” the Porter Airlines spokesperson said.
However, even if a passenger films without permission, there is no law against taking video or photographs on a plane. Although the passenger may be kicked off the flight, they are unlikely to face any legal action over their videos.
Airlines cannot prohibit passengers from another airline from filming something an altercation or incident at the airport if they happen to be passing by the gate.
Filming TSA security proceedings is a different thing entirely, however, specifically if passengers record security information, like what appears on monitors. Passengers are risking detainment and questioning by police.
The Porter Airlines passengers remained stranded in Boston for three days, with the airline covering hotel costs and some meals. However, passengers were denied any addition compensation as the airline is blaming its mechanical issue on the weather.