British Airways Faces Backlash Over New Employee Social Media Policy

British Airways has refreshed its social media policies, which regulate what and when employees can (and can’t) post online regarding their line of work. While employees of the UK flag carrier previously had a reasonable degree of freedom on this front, the airline has reminded staff not to post while ‘professionally engaged.’

A useful insight into airline life

Recent years have seen the online avgeek (aviation geek) community flourish on social media. While we all love to post our planespotting pictures online, some of the most interesting accounts are those run by airline employees themselves. These give followers a fascinating insight into jobs that most of us could only dream of getting.


Of course, airline employees, especially those whose work entails safety-critical duties, must be responsible and show discretion in this regard. An article by BALPA notes that, for example, a couple of easyJet pilots got into hot water several years ago due to using Snapchat while in the cockpit. However, for the most part, pilots and cabin crew sharing their views of the skies have been well received online.

Photo: StuartBailey/British Airways

One of the best-known users of social media in this capacity is Virgin Atlantic pilot Chris Pohl. Simple Flying interviewed ‘Captain Chris’ in 2021, and he told the story of his journey from him to the left seat of the carrier’s Airbus A350s. Pohl is verified on Instagram, where he has amassed 362,000 followers showing his life in the skies.

Policy refresh at British Airways

Different airlines have different policies regarding their employees’ use of social media. When it comes to British Airways, BALPA reported in 2018 that flight deck photos could only be taken above 20,000 feet.

However, a recent refresh of the UK flag carrier’s employee social media policy has concerned the online community. Yesterday evening, accounts that had previously showcased an insight into life at the carrier took to social media to explain that their activities would have to change going forward due to the refresh.

British Airways Airbus A350

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

This would reportedly prevent employees from posting while ‘professionally engaged,’ and the move was met negatively by followers of such accounts. Simple Flying reached out to British Airways, and the airline explained that:

“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 onboard. It’s not unreasonable to ask them to wait until their break to take photos (…) Nothing has changed in terms of the actual social media guidelines, we have just provided additional clarity about what is and isn’t acceptable. The guidelines ask colleagues not to post to social media when professionally engaged in their job ( eg serving customers onboard, flying the aircraft).”

British Airways Airbus A320

Photo: Senohrabek/Shutterstock

What does the new policy say?

British Airways kindly sent Simple Flying a copy of its updated external social media guidelines, which were updated on January 25th. The document recognizes the advantages of social media as a means of sharing employees’ passion for their work, as well as strengthening the wider BA brand. However, the airline also reminded its workers that certain content could have negative impacts.

With this in mind, British Airways has asked its employees not to “post on social media or capture content when [they] are professionally engaged in [their] job.” This appears to have been the crux of the backlash that the decision has faced, although the airline was keen to emphasize that colleagues are welcome to post when off duty or on breaks. It also suggested creating separate work and personal accounts.

British Airways Airbus A320 Frankfurt

Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

Not an outright ban

As such, it seems that, rather than totally prohibiting employees from posting about their work on social media, the refreshed policy will ensure that this only takes place when BA’s staff aren’t otherwise occupied with safety-critical tasks.

This means that, despite the initial reaction to the refreshed guidelines, such content may continue to exist. Airline employees represent their companies wherever their work takes them, providing a visible and personal presence that can help and even inspire both passengers and the general public at airports worldwide.

Their online interactions function in the same way and using social media to safely showcase life in the skies may well play a key role in inspiring future generations to take on similar roles in the years to come. When used responsibly and with discretion, it is certainly a force for good, for both the posters and their followers.

Source: BALPA

  • British Airways, Cabin Crew Training, Customer Service

    British Airways
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Full Service Carrier
    London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport
    Year Founded:
    Airline Group:
    Sean Doyle

    United Kingdom

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