By Carlos Miller
The video that JetBlue flight attendants feared would go on Youtube has finally been posted on Youtube.
And only because JetBlue executives have shown a complete disregard towards Marilyn Parver, the passenger whom flight attendants had escorted off the plane in handcuffs after she refused to delete a video of an altercation between two passengers.
The incident occurred on a flight from New York City to Las Vegas on July 26th. The altercation was between the mother of an unruly child and a man who had lost his temper over the child kicking the back of his seat.
Parver, a 56-year-old grandmother from Arizona, was sitting two rows behind the mother and child, using her camera to photograph clouds out the window when she switched to video mode and started filming the altercation.
Flight attendants ordered her to delete the video, accusing her of planning to post the video on Youtube to embarrass JetBlue. As if they have not done enough to embarrass themselves.
Parver says she had no intention of posting it on Youtube. As she stated in her complaint to JetBlue’s top executives, she merely wanted to use the video to show her daughter an example of bad parenting.
I am a grandmother who only wanted to show my daughter that uncontrolled kids really do irritate other people.
But Parver sent the video to Photography is Not a Crime after JetBlue sent her a scathing response to her complaint, accusing her of being “argumentative, condescending and belligerent” towards flight attendants. I, in turn, posted it to my Youtube account, marking the first time the much talked about video made it online.
She has yet to receive a response from the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, both who also received her complaint.
“I have no attorney but wish I did,” she said. “I have not found anyone willing to take it on contingency and that is my only option.”
The video proves that Parver had not stepped out of her seat as she filmed the altercation, which is pivotal considering JetBlue had first accused her of interferance with a flight crew member, a federal crime that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.
The four-page response from JetBlue is signed by Joanna L. Geraghty, Vice President and Associate General Counsel. In other words, JetBlue’s in-house attorney. Parver calls it a “letter of lies” and asked that it not get published with this article because of its defamatory nature.
One of the main lies, she says, is how Geraghty accuses her of lying about having been lead off the plane in handcuffs.
“The entire plane saw this happen,” Parver says.
The Las Vegas Police Department claims they do not have a record of the incident because they ended up not arresting her.
The letter also claims that Parver continued taking photos of the flight attendants after her initial exchange with them to “antagonize the crew”, which Parver also denies.
But the most dubious claim is that flight attendants told her that photography in an aircraft is forbidden as stated in the Flight Attendant Manual.
“Due to both privacy and security concerns, the F1 (lead flight attendant) asked you to delete the photos and the movie. The F1 also advised you that the Flight Attendant Manual did not permit the taking of photos. However, you refused to delete the photographs.
At this point, the F1 called the Captain who suggested that she show you the relevant section of the manual. The F1 brought the manual to your row. You refused to look at the manual and again refused to delete the photographs.”
“I was never offered any manual,” Parver says. “If there is something in a manual about taking photos inflight…why not put it in the seat pocket?”
The truth is, you will never find the Flight Attendant Manual in the seat pocket because it is not meant to be shown to passengers. In fact, flight attendants are specifically warned against showing the manual to passengers as a security precaution.
Peter Dooling, a Miami-based photographer who spent several years as a flight attendant for United Airlines, says the Flight Attendant Manual is a highly sensitive book that contains all the Federal Aviation Administration regulations, security codes from airports around the world, specific information about every commercial airplane as well as specific company policies.
“It’s something that we always had to keep under lock and key,” he says. “We were not allowed to show it to the passengers for security reasons.”
This is also confirmed by flight attendant Mary Jo Manzanares, who maintains the blog, Fly Away Cafe.
The Flight Attendant Manual (FAM) is our “bible” containing information regarding the various aircraft we work on, the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR’s), company policies, first aid information, service guidelines and policies, emergency procedures, and a variety of other things that vary from airline to airline.
The FAM is our reference guide. The place we go to look up something that we don’t remember, or to double check on a policy or procedure. It’s big because there’s so much in it.
By the way, the FAM is a private and secured document, so it is not something that is shown to passengers or anyone who hasn’t been qualified to see it. When customers say “show me the rule that says that” we are not going to dig out the FAM to show them.
So if it is true that the lead JetBlue flight attendant attempted to show Parver the Flight Attendant Manual, she was committing an actual security breach.
The JetBlue letter also states that:
“JetBlue’s policy above 10,000 feet is to request passengers discontinue videotaping or photographing, particularly photographing the cockpit area or inflight procedures.”
So does this mean that JetBlue passengers are allowed to videotape and photograph below 10,000 feet? If that’s the case, then JetBlue is at odds with every other airline in the world which only forbid you to use electronic devices upon landing and departure, not during cruising altitude.
“Maybe things have changed after 9/11, but when I was a flight attendant, photography was not a big deal,” says Dooling, who worked from 1997 to 2001. “It happened all the time. Tourists always carry cameras.”
But if airline policies regarding photography have changed since 9/11, then somebody did not inform the members of the Flickr group Inside the Plane, which states that “any shots inside the plane will work. Cockpits, johns, seats, meals and crew. If it’s inside the plane (on the ground or in the air) - it works!”
More than 500 Flickr members have joined the group since 2007, posting more than 3,000 photos, so it doesn’t seem like there is much of an anti-photography policy inside commercial airlines But granted, none of these photos show two passengers arguing.
However, one photo shows two JetBlue flight attendants posturing for the camera during a flight, specifically a flight attendant named Judy wiping her fellow flight attendant with a maxipad. No, I’m not kidding.
Also, as Photography is Not a Crime reader Dave points out in the comments section, there was the JetBlue Point of View photo contest, which encouraged passengers to take photos outside the window at cruising altitudes. More than 1,700 entries were submitted to the contest last year.
So it’s really difficult to believe the claims outlined in the JetBlue letter.
Logic tells us that the flight attendant never showed Parver the Flight Attendant Manual. Just as the video shows us that Parver never interfered with a crew member. Just as the above photo and photo contest shows us there really is no JetBlue policy forbidding photography in flight.
Logic tells us that this predictament is a result of a flight attendant trying to prevent a video from appearing on Youtube.
You have to love the irony.