A man about to catch a flight at Newark Liberty International Airport took a photo of an Air Canada kiosk and was quickly confronted by an employee who ended up deleting about a dozen photos this morning.
The man, who posted his story on Flyer Talk, made the mistake of handing her the camera in the first place, rather than switching to video mode and asking her what gave her the authority to forbid photography inside the ironically named airport.
The man, who goes by the username, TheMachine999, refers to her as a CSR, which I’m assuming is a customer service representative.
Here’s how he explains it:
Just as I was about to check-in using an Air Canada kiosk at EWR, I noticed a kiosk that was repeatedly rebooting Windows XP and showing the “Windows did not shut down normally” prompt in an apparent infinite loop. I took out my camera and snapped a photo of it. Someone behind me yelled “Sir! Why are you taking pictures of the kiosk? Are you an Air Canada technician?” and an Air Canada CSR approached me from behind the Air Canada check-in counters. Taken by surprise, I answered “No.” She reiterated “Why are you taking pictures of the kiosk? If you’re not an Air Canada technician, you should not be taking pictures of Air Canada equipment.” At this point I realize what is going on. Not wanting to put my entire day of tightly scheduled flights in jeopardy, I simply stated that I thought it was strange for the kiosk to (mis)behave this way (to which she responded “So you take a picture of it because it’s strange?!?@!?#!?#”) and I asked her if she wanted me to delete the picture. She said “Yes — and if I don’t see that camera right now, I’m going to call Port Authority and you’re going to be in a position you really don’t want to be in.” Now I am getting irritated. Still, trying not to escalate the situation as I’m quite sure she would act upon her threat without a moment’s thought, and I really don’t want to miss any flights, I offered her my camera, assuming that she wanted to verify that I deleted the photo (not sure how she would do it) or checking the camera for bombs or something ridiculous. She takes the camera, scrolls through the previous few photos, and exclaims:
“Why are you taking pictures of aircraft?” [DELETE]
“It’s Air Canada again!” <referring to a picture of a kiosk displaying the ‘check-in cannot be completed due to too many flights on your itinerary’ message> [DELETE]
“This behavior is not normal.” [DELETE]
“If security gets their hands on this camera, you will be a very suspicious target.” [DELETE]
Now I am angry and flabbergasted. This CSR has threatened me over taking a picture of an airport kiosk, scrolled through my private photos without my consent, deleted my private photos without my consent, all while having the audacity to lecture me that my behavior is “not normal” and “very suspicious”, as if she is doing me a favor by deleting my supposedly offending photos, including a photo of an aircraft taken OUTSIDE AN AIRPORT on public grounds. Of course, she didn’t know that, but she deleted it anyway, because, you know, her judgement of what the photos even depict on the camera’s tiny preview screen are clearly infallible.
Throughout this ordeal, I told her I don’t understand what the problem is, and that I’ve taken photos (including some she is deleting, such as a YYZ terminal screen that ran out of memory and froze) right next to security guards/police without them saying a thing. “Really? Well, you’re not supposed to be taking pictures,” was the response, as she continued deleting my pictures.
Finally, after deleting about a dozen pictures, she hands the camera back to me. Only now does she stop speaking in an intimidating and condescending tone as she tries to sweeten the experience by saying that she just wants everyone to have a good time during the holidays, whatever holiday I celebrate, and that she doesn’t care if I celebrate any holiday at all but I shouldn’t be taking pictures of Air Canada equipment (as if celebrating any holidays has anything to do with this???) and that I need to be careful and blah blah blah especially at US airports, which is really funny because most of the photos she deleted were taken elsewhere.
***So how should I do it? Email? Facebook? Twitter? Garbage chute (i.e. suck it up and swallow it whole)? What do you think of the CSR’s actions? Are they reasonable? Did I simply get my just deserts for acting abnormally at airports and engaging in suspicious activity?
The man should never have handed over his camera, but not everybody is prepared to stand up for their rights when confronted for doing nothing but taking a photo. Hopefully, next time he’ll be better prepared.
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