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Old Aug 9, 11, 3:46 pm   #1
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Reprimanded for Photographing UA Check in Desks at JFK

I seem to have bad luck with United as this thread from 2 years ago will attest to:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...my-camera.html

Last Friday I was flying United in Business from JFK-LAX. I was very excited for the trip and planned to take numerous pictures for my albums as well as threads on FT as I always do. Once I got to JFK, I took a picture of the check in desks. An agent immediately yelled at me saying I was not allowed to take pictures here. A second agent came up and told me the same thing. I said I was not doing anything illegal or photographing anything sensitive or security related. The second agent starting talking about "security" and "9/11" and how this was "New York and everyone is very cautious here".

I remarked that again I understood and that I was from New York and also, I was a paying customer and an elite and did not appreciate the way they were talking to me. She then tried a new tactic and threatened to call the PA Cops. I said I wasn't worried about that as I knew I wasn't photographing anything sensitive. She then said that "we are not public sector employees. You don't have our permission to use our likeness". At this point I stopped talking and she tried to smooth things over by asking "do you know how to find the lounge?". I said sure and left.

I must say I'm rather upset. The quick dropping of 9/11, the rude way in which I was treated and all that. Maybe I was in the wrong (I don't think I was) but thanks to United for trying to suck the fun out of another trip. I would have gladly showed them the picture I took especially had they been polite. Being accusatory just put me on the defensive and more convinced what I was doing was ok.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 4:00 pm   #2
  
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Unfortunately, if the Port Authority cops had been called, based on previous encounters others have had, the cops would not have affirmed your right to take pictures.

There needs to be an answer once and for all whether the Port Authority explicitly forbids personal photography at its airports. If the answer is 'yes', then I leave it to the New Yorkers on this board to further challenge that policy.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 4:14 pm   #3
  
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Sounds like they didn't want their photos taken. "Security" and "9/11" is a load of nonsense in this case, but why not just respect their privacy?
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Old Aug 9, 11, 4:20 pm   #4
  
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Originally Posted by yyzvoyageur View Post
Sounds like they didn't want their photos taken. "Security" and "9/11" is a load of nonsense in this case, but why not just respect their privacy?
Then the employees should have said that they'd prefer not to be photographed, and politely asked the passenger to stop.

Once they threw out "9/11! This is New York! Security!" they lost their credibility.

For what it's worth, saying "You don't have our permission to use our likeness" is not saying that one cannot take their photo. It is saying that the passenger cannot use the image of the employee to further a product or a cause. The same applies if you take a photo of a stranger walking down the street. You are free to use that photo for whatever personal purposes you like; you can't use the person's image to endorse a product or cause without the subject's permission.

In addition, the remark that they're not public-sector employees is meaningless. They are working in a public space. Would the employees pull the same "we're private-sector employees" if someone tried photographing them while walking down the street?
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Old Aug 9, 11, 4:46 pm   #5
  
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As far as I know, the status of whether the privately-operated terminals at JFK allow personal photography is a little up in the air. PAPD has a history of saying that photography isn't allowed, but I haven't seen any rules posted or laws that confirm this. However, the most they could do would be to ask you to leave. I'm not sure how kicking someone out of the terminal would interact with their conditions of carriage; I assume they'd have to refund your money. IANAL, though.

(See the thread in which FTer marklyon was nearly arrested by PAPD for something similar at another JFK terminal.)

UA also apparently has a no-photography policy, but I can't see how they'd legally enforce it, especially at places like check-in desks where there would be no expectation of privacy, and given that LEOs aren't charged with enforcing corporate policies.

Agreed that once they played the 9/11 card, there was no possibility of a rational discussion with them. The employees, even if they were covered by UA policy/terminal-operator policy/local laws against photography at JFK, clearly were muddling their arguments.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 4:52 pm   #6
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I have just had a crap flight today where in the FAs double teaming opinion I displayed "attitude", although according to seat mates I had never met before the attitude belonged to the FAs. Same thing happened when the passenger behind me had his phone on in airplane mode (verboten) and his partner tried to take pics out the window over London (verboten). Now, perhaps that is the case but the delivery of the reprimand was riddled with attitude. Lost patience with them entirely now.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 5:34 pm   #7
  
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Last Friday I was flying United in Business from JFK-LAX. I was very excited for the trip and planned to take numerous pictures for my albums as well as threads on FT as I always do.
I would send a complaint into United, explaining what you were trying to do and what happened. Be sure to explain how your photo was going to compliment the airline -- that you were trying to show how well laid out the UA terminal is, how efficient the check-in-process was, how there were not any lines, unlike at other airlines, whatever.

In short, the complaint would be letting the airline know that those two employees blew the airline's chance to get positive word-of-mouth advertising on a social networking site, at to cost to the airline.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 5:45 pm   #8
  
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Originally Posted by RatherBeOnATrain View Post
I would send a complaint into United, explaining what you were trying to do and what happened. Be sure to explain how your photo was going to compliment the airline -- that you were trying to show how well laid out the UA terminal is, how efficient the check-in-process was, how there were not any lines, unlike at other airlines, whatever.

In short, the complaint would be letting the airline know that those two employees blew the airline's chance to get positive word-of-mouth advertising on a social networking site, at to cost to the airline.
Agree with this advice..
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:06 pm   #9
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It's a real sad to be so embarrassed of your job to not want your picture taken.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:09 pm   #10
  
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
The second agent starting talking about "security" and "9/11" and how this was "New York and everyone is very cautious here".

I remarked that again I understood and that I was from New York and also, I was a paying customer and an elite and did not appreciate the way they were talking to me.
Or perhaps your response should have been: "S&!#, you mean I'm not in Cleveland?!?! Well that's the last time I get hammered on tequila the night before a flight... What a mess I'm in."
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:16 pm   #11
  
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Originally Posted by yyzvoyageur View Post
Sounds like they didn't want their photos taken. "Security" and "9/11" is a load of nonsense in this case, but why not just respect their privacy?
The journalistic answer -- which would hold up in court if someone managed to take it that far -- is that the area in question is a public place and there is no expectation of privacy.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:19 pm   #12
  
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Or perhaps your response should have been: "S&!#, you mean I'm not in Cleveland?!?! Well that's the last time I get hammered on tequila the night before a flight... What a mess I'm in."
As much as that might be humorous ... joking about being drunk in front of an airline employee who can deny you permission to fly that day because they suspect you're drunk is a really bad idea. (And I don't really fault them for that.)
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:51 pm   #13
  
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As much as that might be humorous ... joking about being drunk in front of an airline employee who can deny you permission to fly that day because they suspect you're drunk is a really bad idea. (And I don't really fault them for that.)
Yes, the caveat is to only attempt this if it's possible to make your sarcasm and annoyance known in no uncertain terms rather than suggesting you're actually intoxicated (but really, who could get drunk enough to go to NYC instead of Cleveland, or to NYC from Cleveland in the middle of the night and still be alive?).
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Old Aug 9, 11, 7:15 pm   #14
  
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Yes, the caveat is to only attempt this if it's possible to make your sarcasm and annoyance known in no uncertain terms rather than suggesting you're actually intoxicated (but really, who could get drunk enough to go to NYC instead of Cleveland, or to NYC from Cleveland in the middle of the night and still be alive?).
Foster Brooks?
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Old Aug 9, 11, 7:43 pm   #15
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You should team up with the lawyer in the other threads running around taking pictures at airports. Sue everybody.

United, as shown in quite a few threads here, is very sensitive about their people getting their picture taken.

Their policy is pretty clear:

Also, unauthorized photography, audio, or video recording of airline personnel, aircraft equipment, or procedures is always prohibited.


The constant need people have to photograph the United Employees probably drives them nuts. The correct answer should be "sorry, I didn't realize it was not allowed"and to move on.

Not to challenge them and piss them off even more.

I know, I'm in the minority, but nothing good will come of the arguments with United employees. They have all been told no pictures. The customer is not going to change that.
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