Travel Writer Booted Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking a Picture of His Seat


Matthew Klint is an avid travel writer and loyal United Airlines flyer who spends almost as much time in the air as he does on the ground. Last year alone he traveled more than 200,000 miles, and his contributions can be found in the Washington Times, USA Today, BBC, Toronto Star, and his Live and Let’s Fly blog.

But last week, Klint recorded an airline first for him on what was supposed to be a flight from Newark to Istanbul: he was kicked off of the flight for taking a photo of the seat in front of him, and then explaining why it was he had taken the picture.

The story goes something like this. Sitting in a 767-300 and having just been upgraded to business class, Klint pulled out his iPhone and snapped the following picture of the display on the seat in front of him.


He was immediately approached by a flight attendant, told he was not allowed to take pictures, and pointed towards United’s “Onboard Photo and Video” guidelines in Hemisphere magazine:


He quickly and without argument put his phone away and complied with instructions as the flight attendant rushed off to reprimand another flyer that was doing the same thing. But the whole interaction had bothered him, so he got her attention in order to explain his side and clear up any misunderstandings:

Naturally, the FA’s warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim—

‘I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn’t think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog.’

[She] refused to take my business card saying, ‘No, that’s okay,’ then saying, ‘I did not know that’ after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.

That’s when things got ugly. A few minutes later, he was asked by a Global Services rep to disembark and find another flight to Istanbul at the pilot’s behest. After several minutes of confusion and a less-than-polite interaction with the pilot, during which Klint realized that the flight attendant had lied to the pilot, he got off the plane and found another connecting flight.

The whole altercation has led to a lengthy write-up on his well-trafficked blog, which will inevitably translate into some bad press for United — and all because he took a photo of the seat in front of him.

For all of the details — including the full dialogue between Klint, the pilot and the GS rep — you can read the entire story over on Klint’s blog.

Thrown Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking Pictures! [Live and Let’s Fly]

Image credits: Photo illustration based on United Airlines – N771UA by InSapphoWeTrust and Off Limits Picture by Matthew Klint

  • Mansgame

    Who’s the coward here? The people who are responsible for the safety, privacy, and comfort of hundreds of people who asked him directly to stop, or the whiny little pencil pusher who got his feelings hurt that they told him not to break the rules and later blogged about it. That showed them…They’ll think twice about doing their job next time.

  • Mansgame

    exactly. he pulled the old “do you know who I am!?!” card…except nobody cares. He’s a blogger. Hell, I’m a blogger. Nobody cares. Even Alec Baldwin left the plane.


    exactly, the problem here is everybody thinks that he is…

  • Mansgame

    Their job description doesn’t include dealing with the egos of a the mighty blogger.

  • Mansgame

    Don’t be an idiot. It’s not about being a terrorist. The airline has rules to fly on their plane. If you don’t like it, get your own plane. He broke the rules and they told him so and everything would have been alright but this moron thought he was more important than he was and started arguing about it with the crew who have bigger things to worry about like you know, flying the plane.

  • Mansgame

    You really showed them. lol.

  • Mansgame

    What do their rules say? Southwest is ok with pictures too once above 10,000 feet.

  • Mansgame

    That’s “Shill” Alanna. Am I a shill too? I’d be a weird one since I usually fly Southwest. I guess in your little mind anybody who disagrees with you or doesn’t follow the mob mentality has to be a shill because you don’t want to even begin to challenge your own thinking.


    way to stick it to the man! good job!

  • Mansgame

    It’s not a hard line to ask someone politely to stop. He was the one who didn’t agree with it and took it to the next level.

  • elrod

    grow up

  • Kirsten Zielinski

    we are a country of frightened sheep and have been since 9-11.. bush made sure to remove any ones ability to question anything by labeling it ‘unpatriotic’ and marking you a questionable person..

  • Kirsten Zielinski

    he did what they asked..they were asshats about it.. this is freaked america which use to mean something. now it means comply or die..

  • ♔Donna Jackson WQ

    nonsense I always have my camera on me and photograph through the window to and from Italy

  • Jean

    Years ago i work as the airport ticket counter for a major airline A Pax asked me to switch seats. I advised him I could do that but all I had was middle seats left. He had a window and wanted a aisle. He yelled at me that he has zillion :-) miles with us and I should move other pax. I repeated myself once and asked to help the next person in line. He complained to the corporate office. In his complaint I had cursed him out and threw his bag at him. My boss had to investigate… I am a shy , timid person. He couldn’t believe what he read. When questioning my coworkers they first think they asked was did the person have the right employee then they laughed. They all said that it would be so unusual for me to curse that they would notice. As far as throwing a bag at someone…no way that happened. Remember there is three sides to a story …yours…mine and the truth.

  • Rob S

    You never answered. Ill give you a hint – in the history of “terrorism” not one terrorist has brought attention to himself and handed his business card to the intended target. And there is no value in taking a picture of a seat. People need to stop watching reruns of “24.”

  • Rob S

    Actually go to his blog and read the whole story. The Captain got painted into a corner by a crew member who was lying. I fly United all the time and I take pictures all the time. The “rule” is a lot like the LAW about defacing money. When was the last time someone got charge with that? Yet it is on the books.

  • MissNormaDesmond

    Yeah, no. Anyone with an IQ higher than that of mud knows that you don’t mention terrorism in any way, shape, or form within a 10-mile radius of an airport, much less an airplane, much less on an international flight.

  • Bracy Richard Neal

    Geez, get a life! Giuliani, Smisek, 9-1-1? Single, too?

  • Ivan

    Proven formula: “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
    the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are
    being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and
    exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
    — Hermann Goering

  • FYI

    So, never question authority because in moist cases they dont know how to handle a simple explanation of policy. Silly flight crew.

  • Manolismo

    Plain and simple follow the rules, right?

  • Igor Ken

    LOL, “I hope you didn’t think I was a terrorist” … you gotta be kidding me dude.

  • MMielech

    “Bad press for United”

    hahahaha. Thanks for the morning laugh. Like I’ve read anything good about them in the last decade.

  • Stanojev

    Funny and sad. Sad because unfortunately, we live in times of such hysteria induced mass herding and conformism. Funny because this guy who one would assume is well traveled (he writes a travel BLOG) should know better. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t even have made it to the plane if he pulled out his business card at the security check points and said “it’s ok, I’m not a terrorist, I’m a travel BLOG writer, this process and your fear doesn’t apply to me”.

    Imagine the FA’s conversation with the pilot; “captain, some dude in the back was taking photos of the seats, I didn’t understand why, so I told him to stop. He said he wasn’t a terrorist, he was just going to post it on the Internet”.

    If I was the captain and had the responsibility in my hands of safely flying a few hundred souls across the world, the last thing I’d want to have to deal with is some guy in the back arguing with my staff over a picture of the back of one of the seats…

  • Rolfen

    General rule: interact with flight attendants as little as possible. I don’t know why but some of the worst persons I’ve ever had the misfortune of knowing were flight attendants. I’ve known some great flight attendants too, which makes them even greater for surviving in such an environment, and quite confusing.

  • Rob S

    Hey Mr. Rules, its no longer “one man’s perspective.”

    Multiple passengers have come forward saying his version is the truth. Additionally two other passengers who were verbally abused by the FA on the same flight have told their stories – including the FA claiming photography is “against FAA regulations” which it is not. And finally another passenger talked about taking a picture on the same flight with no repercussions – apparently because the rude FA was not in the area.

    The only disgruntled person in this story seems to be the FA and you.

  • MMielech

    Yeah, really, flight attendants scare me more than the nuns in Catholic school.

    I keep on seeing that new Geico commercial with the pig and his phone in the plane. Those two stewardesses are classic.

  • Wallerus

    Agreed, he should’ve chosen words carefully. Not all his fault though, cameras aren’t guns, but many treat them as such. He should’ve left well enough alone. Of course, the extra actions by the attendant weren’t justified either. I call it unlucky.

  • JoanieGranola

    Well, we all know that “United Breaks Guitars.” I’m not surprised that they are getting more bad press.

  • Kurt B

    It doesn’t need an expert. It’s just common sense. That’s what is practical for them to do to avoid detection.

  • common sense is gone

    I’m sure you are a fun guy to work with.

  • Duke Shin

    Oh no, now the terrorists know what our seat cushions look like.

  • Darby

    Reminds me of that scene in Meet the Parents were Ben Stiller says “it’s not like I’ve got a bomb in my bag” sir,you can’t say bomb on an airplane. It’s so true. When I was 14 years old I said bomb and terrorist to a freind while waiting for a flight. 2 minutes later I was approached by under cover security Guard who pulled me aside about my choice of words. This was pre 9/11.

  • European

    WHAT? You are saying he did wrong and United Airlines did right. Thank god I live in europe, where there still are some sense (and freedom) in most things. Enjoy your “freedom”.

  • Rene Galvez

    Okay is he an idiot or what doesn’t he understand what the instructions say in the hemisphere magazine no pictures or videos be taken of equipment and personnel what part of that you don’t understand no pictures and videos of the airplane equipment and personnel even a 15 yr old would understand that come on now.They say now bad press for united haha I would fly united any given day the problem with this guy he couldn’t keep his mouth shut that’s what the problem was

  • Richard Ford

    What has photography got to do with terrorism? And for that fact, paedophillia?

  • Richard Ford

    Western flight attendants. They should all be using asia based staff for all operations, better manners, service, language skills and temprement.

  • gochugogi

    Yes, United’s ultimate reaction to kick him off the flight was out of bounds. Sadly, our airports have degraded into ant nests of paranoia and knee-jerk regulation in the name of security. Nevertheless, a seasoned traveler like Matthew Klint should have known better than to escalate this situation with his silly explanation. Hopefully he won’t mention he carries no WMD when questioned by the TSA. Next time Matt, “let sleeping dogs lie…”

  • Zenettii

    Who cares about Klint. Never heard of him, never been to his tiny blog before. Whats more, the coverage he gets (from the likes of petapixel for example) just promotes the airline. at the end of the day, if that airline is the cheapest ticket, or the only flight to your destination at the time you need it, you’re going to use it. You’re not going to refuse to use the airline because some unknown posted a negative blog. Welcome to the interweb, it’s full of biased opinionated Americans. Atleast this one has a passport I guess.

  • Vivienne DuBourdieu

    That was a rough experience. Had no problems doing exactly the same in an Emirates business class flight between Dubai and London. The smell of fish cooking nearly did me in, though – and one of the flight attendants said he felt the same. Hope you got suitable compensation for getting an interesting story in such an unpleasant way.

  • Evan Skuthorpe


  • Evan Skuthorpe

    Why? Because its wrong or because, it would seem, everyone in America is a panicky, paranoid and cowardly sheep, too afraid to tell officious w*nkers like this air hostess b*tch to pull her head in and stop being an idiot? Bomb, bomb, bomb, terrorism, terrorism, terrorism!

  • Evan Skuthorpe

    Exactly right. The nazis had rules too… The SS followed them and we all know they were just doing their job!

  • MissNormaDesmond

    Congratulations. You have the IQ of mud. [Edited to add] You are also a certified Internet Tough Guy.

  • wenttolondon

    My God, I took several photos of the seat in front of me on a flight from Boston to Heathrow on Delta. Nobody said a thing. I think the UA flight attendant overreacted. There are way bigger fish to fry on airlines these days.