Pilots, cabin crew, and other employees fear that British Airways’ new social media policies effectively forbid them from uploading pictures of themselves on popular social networking sites like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter when they are dressed professionally.
The Heathrow-based carrier has prohibited employees from creating content while they are “professionally engaged” in their jobs, such as snapping and uploading an apparently innocent selfie of themselves at work.
Some pilots and cabin crew who had gained fame and success on social media by sharing images and other content related to their work have interpreted the new regulations as outlawing their pastime almost entirely.
Many workers announced on social media on Wednesday that they would no longer be posting anything from their work lives out of fear that they may get severe disciplinary action, including firing.
The guidelines are thought to have been put in place in response to a surge in pilot and cabin crew social media usage that put confidential information at risk. The airline was also concerned with the increase in “social media influencer” behavior among its own employees.
Pilots sharing photos from the cockpit, flight attendants taking pictures of themselves and their colleagues anywhere on a plane, and any pictures taken of a passenger, such a famous person, without that person’s express written agreement might all be in violation of the new regulations.
The “private” staff rest bunks as well as time-lapse movies of the crew working in the galley during dinner service or during boarding and deplaning are explicitly forbidden by the new social media policies.
The classic photograph of an airline staff seated inside an engine has also been prohibited by the new regulations.
A representative for British Airways argued that the new rules gave staff more freedom and denied that the standards forbade them from uploading pictures of themselves on social media.
“We’ve not stopped any colleague from posting on social media – in fact, quite the opposite,” the airline said in a statement.
“We’ve given our people clarity about what’s appropriate and when. For example, when our colleagues are flying an aircraft, they’re responsible for the safety of everyone on board. It’s not unreasonable to ask them to wait until their break to take photos”.
The regulations appear to go well beyond social media policies established by competing foreign carriers, whose employees have been creating identical content for years without experiencing any negative impacts.
However, Qatar Airways (which owns stock in BA’s parent company) is one of the main exceptions to this restriction, as cabin crew is virtually prohibited from publishing images of themselves while working for the airline.
Of course, the Doha-based airline’s cabin crew continues to snap pictures of themselves in uniform and inside the company’s aircraft, but they must wait until they leave their jobs before sharing these images online.
Photo cover By British Airways