British Airways pilots are starting to find clever and inventive way to get around controversial new social media guidelines that prohibit staff from capturing content to post on social media whenever they are “professionally engaged” in their job.
Following an uproar over the policy by pilots, cabin crew and even its own customers, the airline has sought to clarify the guidelines, saying the rules were actually designed to give employees more freedom on social media.
But some staffers fear that the term ‘professionally engaged’ is wide open to interpretation, meaning that they could easily fall foul of the new rules at any point they are on duty.
British Airways says the new guidelines simply provide ‘clarity’ for what’s appropriate and when. “For example, when our colleagues are flying an aircraft, they’re responsible for the safety of everyone on board,” a spokesperson said.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask them to wait until their break to take photos”.
Officially, there’s nothing stopping pilots and other staff from capturing and even posting content on social media during their break periods but some pilots have refused to take the airline up on the offer.
In fact, some aircrew have found new and inventive ways to post on social media while keeping within the rules. One pilot, for example, posted an ‘artists impression’ of a sunset from the flight deck, rather than sharing an actual photo of the sunset.
Another pilot shared a photo from the car park used by pilots – the last point they could take a photo before they were considered to be ‘professionally engaged’ in their job.
British Airways has banned a number of social media activities, according to the official guidelines that the airline shared with us last week. Banned social media posts include:
- Photos taken from the flight deck
- Photos taken with or of customers unless they provide express written consent
- Images of flight plans and other technical documents
- Photos of flight deck instruments – in fact, any photos on the flight deck require prior approval before being posted to social media
- Safety demonstrations and inflight cabin service
- BA’s training facilities
- The engines of aircraft
- Crew bunk facilities
Some of BA’s own customers have jumped to the defence of employees, saying many of the social media posts had helped them engage with the airline and had been a benefit to the brand.
Others, though, support BA’s new policy, saying pilots should be fully focused on their primary job.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.