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American Airlines Flight Attendant Physically Detains Aviation Photographer

American Airlines Flight Attendant Physically Detains Aviation Photographer

Old Oct 30, 22, 4:09 pm
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American Airlines Flight Attendant Physically Detains Aviation Photographer

This is so beyond outrageous, the victim really needs to file charges of unlawful detainment and kidnapping and look at legal action against AA.

Personally I would have physically pushed my way past the crew member in self defense, especially if it was my last flight, there is absolutely no excuse for this.

https://www.johnnyjet.com/american-airlines-flight-attendant-physically-detains-aviation-photographer-until-he-showed-images/Jeremy writes: I was off the plane and the FA had the captain prevent me from going further down the jetbridge and then brought me *back* onto the plane and took the phone out of my hands.

I had stepped into the jetbridge and the FA had what I think was the pilot or FO block me from going further. Then they brought me back on the plane and the FA demanded I open my phone and show them the last several photos and then took the phone out of my hands to inspect them.
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Old Oct 30, 22, 4:44 pm
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
This is so beyond outrageous, the victim really needs to file charges of unlawful detainment and kidnapping and look at legal action against AA.

Personally I would have physically pushed my way past the crew member in self defense, especially if it was my last flight, there is absolutely no excuse for this.

https://www.johnnyjet.com/american-a...-images/Jeremy writes: “I was off the plane and the FA had the captain prevent me from going further down the jetbridge and then brought me *back* onto the plane and took the phone out of my hands.”
What are the damages that would be recoverable in a legal action? None that I can see.

I would be ticked, but physically fighting back would not help. I'd either stand firm and await the police, who surely wouldn't do anything, or comply with the crew at the time but raise with AA after the incident.
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Old Oct 30, 22, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by WeekendTraveler View Post
What are the damages that would be recoverable in a legal action? None that I can see.

I would be ticked, but physically fighting back would not help. I'd either stand firm and await the police, who surely wouldn't do anything, or comply with the crew at the time but raise with AA after the incident.
The crew has no legal basis to detain anyone, certainly physically, so you are fully within your rights to push your way past them and escape. You have the legal right to escape a forced detention by a member of the public, which this basically was.

The damages here come to down to vicarious liability passed to AA by the illegal actions of their employees. You have various civil damages when an unauthorized person detains or kidnaps you, which is what this event comes down to.

Its a very serious situation and Ive already reached out to the victim through the blog that reposted their story to guide them on pursuing this matter.
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Old Oct 30, 22, 6:56 pm
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What We Don't Have Here. . . .Is Any Sort of Context. . . .

. . . .and since it is third-hand we probably won't get any.

This is anywhere from a low-grade criminal assault, which should at least be reported to the airline by the aggrieved passenger if nothing else is going on, to a captain saying "Hey buddy would you please pull up the last few pictures so he or she the FA will calm down"? We don't even know what the FA was asserting happened--which would seem to have been really, really, really, really, relevant. (Although short of the FA believing something deliberately humiliating and possibly illegal (like upskirting) happened, I don't know how it could legitimize an on-ground "citizen's arrest"). But the crew do have personnel files. One off the wall action probably won't amount to much, and perhaps it should not beyond corrective counseling. But a repeated pattern of instability is of concern. Even to AA.

Assuming I will not be violating any Flyer Talk rules by posting the link, here is a five-year-old column from The Points Guy on taking photographs of other people in and around aviation:

What Can You Legally Film on Airplanes and in Airports? - The Points Guy

My summary of the column is you may have contractually waived your right to photograph. But nothing in a ticket agreement would seem to allow for random detention.
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Last edited by jayer; Oct 30, 22 at 7:04 pm
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Old Oct 30, 22, 7:19 pm
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Here is the original source with an update from the photographer

PSA flight; AA has apologized profusely, will investigate, but no proactive compensation


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Old Oct 30, 22, 7:52 pm
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Originally Posted by AAway View Post
Here is the original source with an update from the photographer

PSA flight; AA has apologized profusely, will investigate, but no proactive compensation

https://twitter.com/photojdl/status/...vr6MpkIP0u68fQ
The original post/share did not reference PSA, so the meat and potatoes of this issue is on PSA now from a liability perspective, but the crew involved really need criminal charges filed by the victim - this isn't about photography, but about being physically detained and potentially physically pulled back to the aircraft after deplaning and having one's phone forcibly taken and reviewed. NO airline employee has the right to do this under any circumstances or for any reason, even if they were photographed - their ONLY recourse is to escalate to the airport staff, but even then, nothing can stop the passenger from just walking away. AA still shares vicarious liability, so it appears their response to the victim is the start of some a---covering.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 8:03 am
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
The original post/share did not reference PSA, so the meat and potatoes of this issue is on PSA now from a liability perspective, but the crew involved really need criminal charges filed by the victim - this isn't about photography, but about being physically detained and potentially physically pulled back to the aircraft after deplaning and having one's phone forcibly taken and reviewed. NO airline employee has the right to do this under any circumstances or for any reason, even if they were photographed - their ONLY recourse is to escalate to the airport staff, but even then, nothing can stop the passenger from just walking away. AA still shares vicarious liability, so it appears their response to the victim is the start of some a---covering.
Criminal Charges?

Come on

While it seems the crew overreacted in this situation, the idea that criminal charges should be filed is equally as absurd.

It sounds like AA/PSA should apologise, offer some compensation and take whatever disciplinary action they deem necessary against the employees concerned. But ruining someones life with criminal charges over this? Ridiculous suggestion.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 8:12 am
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Originally Posted by jayer View Post
What Can You Legally Film on Airplanes and in Airports? - The Points Guy

My summary of the column is you may have contractually waived your right to photograph. But nothing in a ticket agreement would seem to allow for random detention.
You can't waive your rights (in most cases). AA has no recourse in such a scenario but to litigate or .... off. Try again, non-attorney.

Originally Posted by BA850 View Post
Criminal Charges?

Come on

While it seems the crew overreacted in this situation, the idea that criminal charges should be filed is equally as absurd.
Unlawful detention is a criminal matter. Period, done.

Last edited by JY1024; Oct 31, 22 at 11:48 am
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Old Oct 31, 22, 8:45 am
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Originally Posted by BA850 View Post
Criminal Charges?

Come on

While it seems the crew overreacted in this situation, the idea that criminal charges should be filed is equally as absurd.

It sounds like AA/PSA should apologise, offer some compensation and take whatever disciplinary action they deem necessary against the employees concerned. But ruining someones life with criminal charges over this? Ridiculous suggestion.
You should probably acquaint yourself with the law before deciding this issue. It is a criminal offense to physically detain someone except under the very strictest of exceptions, and this event fell waaaaay outside those two exceptions:

1. a shopkeeper can detain someone they witnessed shoplifting in their premises until the police arrive
2. a citizen may make a citizens arrest of someone they witness committing a felony - but doing so sets them up for civil liability and possible criminal charges depending on how they do it and whether or not there is clear evidence they directly witnessed the crime in question

This is clearly a matter where the victim can decide to press charges against all members of the crew involved in this mess, along with filing a civil suit against both PSA and AA for which I dont see any realistic defense.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 8:48 am
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This is a slippery slope and with the ability for phones to zoom/photograph pretty much anything at any angle. I find it ridiculous a flight crew thinks they can police/monitor image capturing.
In one experience I eyewitness on UAL in premium class, a FA demanded a man (olive complexion) share/display his phone to verify he wasn't filming anything prior to take-off. It was embarrassing and really saddening as the summary of the situation is the poor chap simply had poor vision and had to keep his phone at eye level to view its content.
Now, would the FA make a similar request of a 10 yr kid who is on their first flight. A different circumstance, but flight crew either should enforce a no phone policy or no restriction phone policy but selective enforcement will result in this type of scenario (complaint, lawsuit, etc.) because it will always come across to the individual as if they are targeted or profiled. Another option, they would have to make the emergency announcement include the restriction on using a camera on the plane to verify no one is disobeying the rules.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 9:20 am
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AA used to have a restriction against photography on their planes in the Conditions of Carriage.I cannot find it now, but know it was there when I started my blog i had to write for permission.
This from 2015 - https://thepointsguy.com/2015/06/no-...allowed-on-aa/

It says this used to be in American Way:

The use of still and video cameras, film or digital, is permitted only for recording of personal events. Two-way pagers, radios, TV sets, remote controls and commercial TV cameras may not be used at any time during a flight. Please refrain from using any voice or audio recording or transmission while on an American aircraft. Unauthorized photography or video recording of airline personnel, other customers, aircraft equipment or procedures is prohibited.
Further, American Airlines PR confirmed the policy with this statement today:
​​​​​​​American allows photography and video recording for personal use. For many customers, taking photos and sharing them on social networks has become part of their travel experience. When photographs and video are used for professional purposes, we do our best to notify flight crews so they are aware and prepared to offer some additional latitude with journalists and bloggers.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 10:09 am
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Not to excuse the actions of the crew in this, but I've been wishing for a long time a way to instantly sync photos and videos to the cloud if you have an internet connection and have a setting that doesn't delete it from the cloud even if it's deleted from the device. That's really the key, the ones I know of wipe it from the cloud too if you delete from the device.

There are a lot of places around the world that authorities will force deletion of pics they deem were taken against the rules, whether that's as simple as a museum or some heavy fisted country's airport. As fast as data is in most of the world now, it's not something that would be difficult to implement as long as the photographer has unlimited date or a large allowance.

I've seen too many situations where a vlogger on YouTube has gotten caught taking a pic or video of something they shouldn't,, but footage could have been saved with a cloud sync that doesn't delete automatically.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 11:06 am
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No matter the legality of taking photos on board, if the FA is demanding to see my phone, they're welcome to it.

In todays environment, with so many instances of over-the-top "you will respect my authority", the consequences are far more damaging. Loss of status, do not fly, loss of points.

All the best, James
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Old Oct 31, 22, 11:14 am
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Originally Posted by kthomas View Post
Unlawful detention is a criminal matter. Period, done.
It is, yes. But is this really worth a criminal complaint? IMO - no. People do stupid things, if there's no real harm caused, there's no reason to add yet another person to the criminal justice train. However, this is my personal feeling on the matter - I can understand the other side as well.

Originally Posted by fdog View Post
No matter the legality of taking photos on board, if the FA is demanding to see my phone, they're welcome to it.

In todays environment, with so many instances of over-the-top "you will respect my authority", the consequences are far more damaging. Loss of status, do not fly, loss of points.
I probably would show it, because I don't care and due to my appearance, I'm frequently subjected to "random" screenings.

That said, this is a gross violation of privacy and as pointed out above, is unlawful detention. The FA was acting way out of line here.
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Old Oct 31, 22, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by kthomas View Post
You can't waive your rights (in most cases). AA has no recourse in such a scenario but to litigate or .... off. Try again, non-attorney.
I'm no attorney, but I'm pretty sure that property owners are permitted to prohibit photography while on their private property.
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