By Stacey Leasca
July 18, 2019
ADEK BERRY/Getty Images

The advent of social media forever changed the game when it comes to customer satisfaction. Though most brands are dealing with it by hiring an army of social media managers, one airline is getting inventive by outright banning people from sharing any photos of its airline at all.

Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s national airline, is facing backlash this week after it banned all passengers from snapping in-flight images. Why ban photos? According to The Guardian, the airline made the decision after a video blogger posted a photo online showing a handwritten dinner menu that the airline found embarrassing. It should be noted that several other airlines, including U.S.-based airlines, have strict photo-taking policies on board as well.

It all began when Rius Vernandes, a YouTuber with more than 500,000 subscribers, took a flight from Sydney to Denpasar on Saturday. On the flight, Vernandes and his travel partner were seated in business class. The two were handed a hand-written menu, rather than a printed one, for their dinner selection.

After uploading the image and video people began to poke fun at the airline. But, because of the content dissemination Vernandes and his travel parter were reported to police. According to The Guardian the duo could face defamation charges under Indonesia’s strict electronic transactions law.

But, in a second video Vernandes explained he had no intention of making fun of the airline or its crew. But, that didn’t stop the police from sending him a letter in which they call him in for questioning.

In the caption of the post Vernandes implored others, especially other influencers, for support.

“I hope you can help share and support me through this problem because I don’t want to see that, in the future, whenever we review something as is, whenever we give constructive criticism, we can be criminalised,” he wrote.

In response to it all the airline itself decided to backtrack its policy by just a little bit.

“People can still take pictures [on board our flights] for their own use,” the airline said in a statement, “as long as they don’t disturb the other passengers.”

Still, just because the airline changed its mind doesn’t mean the blogger is off the hook yet. As ABC reported, the police reports have already been filed, though the couple have not been named suspects. It’s up to the police as to what happens next.

Though you’re not likely to end up in jail you still could face backlash like this in the United States too.

“Taking pictures of crew members working is not permitted by most U.S. airlines for safety of passengers and crew as well as security of the cabin,” says Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, a union for airline crew members, told The Washington Post.

As the paper further noted, photography may be a first amendment right, but it isn’t on an aircraft, which is part of a private company. Many airline policies look like United’s, which reads in part that pictures or video on board are permitted “only for capturing personal events,” adding,“photography or recording of other customers or airline personnel without their express prior consent is strictly prohibited.”

Still, at least one advocate believes you should still press “record” if you see something shady going down.

“[The airlines] don’t have the authority to force anybody to delete their photos or videos,” Carlos Miller, publisher of Photography Is Not a Crime, told The Washington Post. “So if you record something newsworthy, you should never delete the footage, no matter what they threaten.”