Qantas’ New Camera Policy Causes Stir

A few days ago, a recent change regarding filming/photography in Qantas’ Conditions of Carriage (CoC) came to light resulting in a number of mixed reactions across social media.

In their CoC updated on November 8, 2023, the carrier quietly added a new clause stating that passengers should “seek consent before filming or photographing Qantas Group staff, contractors or other customers” under subsection 12.1 titled “Obey Directions”.

When Aussie media picked up on the matter, they initially painted the new policy as an outright ban on filming and photography, even suggesting that influencers be on guard when conducting any Qantas-related activity. However this is not fully the case.

In a statement to media, Qantas said, “We know that lots of our customers want to film and photograph their journey and our policy is designed to make sure they can do that safely and respectfully. It doesn’t prevent customers from taking photos or videos of themselves, their family and friends or out of the window.”

That clause by itself isn’t so bad to speak of, as a few other airlines also have similar in place to protect its staff members and other passengers. However they further state that passengers should “use electronic devices (excluding hearing aids and heart pacemakers) when and as directed and in the case of any failure to comply with the direction we may retain the device”.

On the surface, I have no problem with this as I think it is a bit awkward for those around you, especially if you do not have their permission. I’ve seen some trip reviewers and influencers “unintentionally” include crew and/or passengers who clearly look uncomfortable being in their photos or videos. The clause does not limit passengers from filming or photographing their experience, but they should just do so in a way not to include other passengers or staff in their content, unless they get clear consent of course.

On the flip side, it is worrying change, as a bad interaction between a passenger and crew member could end up in a he-say/she-say battle with no physical evidence to prove otherwise. With an increase in the number of onboard incidents, passengers may be more hesitant to film for fear of having their phones or cameras seized. Whether this legally enforceable, I’ll leave that for a lawyer to answer, but having the policy documented does give the airline more leverage.

The reality is that while most incidents tend of be the fault of the traveler, there are also cases of crew members abusing their powers and privileges, and sometimes physical evidence may be the only shred of proof to separate fact from fiction. Incidents like the 2017 United Express passenger removal and hidden camera in toilet discovery really show why policies like this may be to the detriment of passengers.

I can see both sides to the story, but it’s hard to disagree that more and more passengers are pushing the social media boundaries, at the expense of the privacy of others on board simply trying to get from point A to point B or doing their jobs.

[Featured Photo: Mertie/Flick (CC BY 2.0)]

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