Several American Airlines Policy Changes Go Into Effect Tomorrow

From Traveling Better.

Photography: AA’s ban on photography will now extend to filming employees at/in “any airline area” including ticket counters, gates, cargo, baggage, (and of course on-board) effective Dec 3rd,

Guns: Changes to minimum age to check to 21, and, now unlimited guns per case. Airsoft and BB guns considered guns now. Plus unspecified update(s) to firearms checking on international flights.

Bassinets: some changes to bassinet policy/locations

Non-Hub connections: unaccompanied minors and checked pets will not be allowed on non-hub connections.

I did not know American banned onboard photography and taking pictures at ticket counters and gates.

Here’s the new photography policy:

Of course I rarely document my domestic travels, which is most of my American Airlines flying. And they actively encouraged photos when I first flew their new business class product. I guess I had the permission of Corporate Communications and didn’t technically know it, or at least going forward I will need to ask.

Here’s what strikes me most: Prohibiting photography was actually a priority for someone to spend time on rather than integrating the schedules and operations of two airlines.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] American Airlines claims it can ban photos of its staff at the airport.  I get that federal law requires passengers to obey staff while on board the plane, but what authority could there be for this on the ground?  Is it contractual?  If so, why is it enforceable?  Does it violate a public policy? […]


  1. Couldn’t care less!!! I have no interest to take pictures of AA FA’s. If it was on Virgin, Singapore, Aeroflot or KLM that would be another story!!! 🙂

  2. Out of curiosity, what’s your organization’s policy on photography? Am I free to photograph your employees in your office?

  3. I think these types of policies are usually reactive and due to a prior incident (eg FAs complaining about photos, pax are instagramming others and making them uncomfortable, maybe someone at AA read the UA/Matthew Klint story and thought it was a good idea…) rather than proactive. I wouldn’t read much into it.

  4. I fly United. I will photo or film American employees at ticket counters, gates, baggage services as I damn well please.

  5. Gary, I suspect that with a large organization such as American that the people integrating schedules aren’t also establishing the photography policy.

  6. Gary, you really need to read more carefully. You can take photos anywhere you want, but not of AA staff.

    I’m not sure they can legally enforce that policy because it’s impossible to believe you have a reasonable expectation of privacy on a crowded plane, much less a public airport, but they probably would not let you fly. Assuming they even made a stink out of a petty little issue.

  7. “You can take photos anywhere you want, but not of AA staff.”
    Not true, if a flight attendant on the plane says don’t take pictures, you are not allowed to take pictures. End of story. Doing so would be a violation of federal laws.

  8. Yeah, none of those pesky videos of employees going ballistic on innocent passengers without due cause. Those Facebook posts and Youtube videos of rude employees are really embarrassing.

    Not to mention stupid things like a few weeks ago when an airline brought 3 people in hazmat suits on board to take custody of someone who simply coughed and joked “I just got back from Africa”, without even mentioning the word Ebola.

    I wonder how they are going to enforce this when local TV stations are doing their usual holiday stories of long lines at the airport?

    Police all over the country have been trying this same policy, and when people sue, the police department only loses in court every single time.

  9. J.C. wrote: “Gary, you really need to read more carefully. You can take photos anywhere you want, but not of AA staff.”


    It does not say that. It says passengers can take stills to photograph “their own personal events”. [Anywhere you want] is not a personal event. Another flyer acting like they own the aircraft.

    I think all smartphones should be classified as munitions and not allowed on both carry-on and checked luggage. How’s that.


  10. It can be entirely useful and appropriate to photograph and record AA employees within the scope of employment. Consider a dispute in which a key question is what employee took a given action (perhaps with badge concealed or otherwise not visible). Consider a dispute in which a key question is what the employee said — for which, if the employee said what the passenger claims, the employee and AA are in the wrong.

    This evidence is crucial to passengers seeking to vindicate their rights. What possible proper reason could AA have to disallow passengers from collecting such evidence?

  11. I’d like to see how they are going to enforce a rule against taking photographs at a ticket counter. This is a public space, one that they don’t even own and there is good reason to believe over which they have no right of control.

    You can hang a sign around your neck prohibiting people from taking pictures of you but no court is going to enforce that against anybody. I think the same is true here at least as far as taking pictures in an airport.

    I’d love to see a representative of AA try and call the cops because someone is taking pictures of the people at their counter. It would be just as interesting to see them refuse to board a passenger for the same reason. That would be an interesting court case.

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