back to article BAA accused of banning passengers from filming travel chaos

It seems that UK airport bosses are not content with keeping passengers in the dark as to when they will ever leave the ground. Angry passengers who'd rather be swilling their eggnog in foreign climes have told El Reg that British Airports Authority (BAA) staff are stopping passengers stranded at Heathrow – and other airports – …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. RichyS


    So, is the YouTube awash with videos of the Black Hole of Calcutta like he'll of Heathrow?

  2. Richard 81

    La la la, I'm not listening!

    Also, what ever you do, don't make a joke about b-l-o-w-i-n-g any of them u-p.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    were the Reg Playmobile news crew planning to return to Heathrow?

  4. Graham Anderson

    Photography banned in the security screening areas and... everywhere!

    One place where photography and videoing is banned is the security areas.

    The Heathrow website claims that ALL photography requires permits and written permission, so it would seem that the press bunny who said that photography was OK is misinformed. Of course, trying to enforce no-photo rules in a world of camera phones and 14x zoom super-compacts is stupid, but that's BAA for you.^Heathrow^General^Our+business+and+community^Media+centre^Filming+and+photography^FAQs

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If "ALL photography requires permits and written permission", how come Dixons/Currys/Sony Shop et al. haven't been banned from selling cameras in their shops? People are always taking photos on their display models... ah yes, that would be because BAA make revenue from the shops.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

        "how come Dixons/Currys/Sony Shop et al. haven't been banned from selling cameras in their shops?"

        Assuming there genuinely is a blanket ban on all photography without a permit, then would it be too much to suggest Dixons et al have permits in place allowing their staff and customers to take photos?

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      As if

      This is the stupid ill informed mindless idiocy of the control freak idiots that 'run the country'

      If I were a terrorist looking to 'case the joint' I could - and would - do it using a subtle minature camera, or my mark 1 eyeball. The idea that somehow someone taking a shot or two with their mobile phone is in anyway going to create a problem is lunacy. Its not much different to the mentality that has made it a problem to take holiday snaps, photos at childrens parties and all the rest. We are not all terrorists, we are not all paedophiles, and the few that are one or the other tend to be clever enough not to do the blindlingly obviously silly like walk around with a big tshirt and pointy hat with it written on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Didn't BA do the same thing at terminal 4 during the strikes?

    Air companies, their staff and, their cohorts are pretty dodgy folk.

  6. Haku

    Big corporations trying to stop bad press?

    Shirley you can't be serious.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      We are serious...

      ...and that's Dame Shirley thank you very much.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All commercial/news photography requires this... but since most people bring out their compacts when greeting or saying goodbye to relatives/friends this is generally not an issue.

    I wouldn't be surprised if jobs bodies saw this as an opportunity to bring the boot down (to avoid looking incompetent).

  8. Red Bren
    Big Brother

    Know Your Place!!!

    We take pictures of you. Not the other way round.


    Big Brother & Big Business

  9. g e

    Sure I'll delete it

    Just let's stand and argue about it for a minute or two while the YouTube upload completes, first...

    There. Done.

    Look! Deleted!

    1. Wize

      I'm betting their staff don't have any clues about IT

      Like recovering deleted files, making a copy of the file before the phone goes near them or similar.

      Usually when it all goes wrong, the staff hide. Its one way to not only find them but to get them to come over and talk to you. Just wave your camera around like you are filming.

  10. Ally J

    Not the best message

    It's private property and BAA can probably impose any rules they wish, backed up by 'national security' if they so desire. It doesn't endear them to anyone if their staff are clamping down on people taking pictures of what their holiday has become.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge


      it is publicly accessible private property so no, they cant force you delete anything without good reason. Since you also signed a contract with them (ala tickets) they cannot forcibly eject you either without good reason.

      security is the best loophole for them.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    For some inexplicable reason BAA has refused an offer from the army to help clear the runways at Heathrow airport.

    Considering they still only have one runway open the only reason I can think of is PR.

    If they accepted help they would be admitting they couldn't cope and therefore would rather see passengers remain stranded.

    This seems to add credence to the censorship of passengers filming as it goes along nicely with their "nothing to see here, move along" attitude.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      That is actually good PR

      This means that the person in charge has finally seen the light and did what _ALL_ countries which have to deal with that do when the snowfall capacity exceeds the civilian resources.

      I have seen that in Moscow when trucks maintaining the "betonka" used to service the PVO are brought to clear the snow, I have seen that in Northern Bulgaria where tanks are used to clear the main roads after particularly bad cold air "invasions" onto the Danube plain. I have seen it even in the USA with the national guard does this when the white sh*t hits the fan. Not doing this is stupid.

      By the way, the fault is both with the BAA and HMG here. HMG should not be sitting and discussing how big a committee will do to waste time until the snow melts.

      1. spodula

        Have you noticed..

        That the moment, Parlament stops sitting, the temperature drops at least 10 degrees.

        Perhaps if we were to force the respective parlaments to sit throughout the winter period without a break, suficcient hot air would be produced to mitigate the effect of the Arctic winters!

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Are you seriously thinking HMG could do something useful?

        Not here old bean. It doesn't matter which party is in power they have only two things they are capable of - fiddling expenses and shouting meaningless insults to chants of 'yeah' and waving of paper.

        HMG should have put the army into the airports to sort it, not asked!

        Just like HMG during the volcano incident should have done some tests with RAF planes, commandeered ferries, arranged to get people home. (I was stuck in France, I managed to get home on Norfolk Line - a half empty ferry from Dunkirk to Dover, it could have taken a pile more passengers had the government stepped in and sorted out the 'insurance' stupidity that prevented them taking foot passengers - or maybe just arranged some coaches. Norfolk Lines did their best - and I am very greatful - wonderful company - but it galls me that the government didn't seem able or willing to do the obvious and sort things).

        Another one earlier this week, a country bursting with dozens, possibly even hundreds, of steam trains but one downed power line stopped one of the main London train terminals dead in its tracks - HMG should have borrowed the steam locos and towed the now useless electric hulks from station to station as they used to do when diesel first started in the '60's (and failed).

        As to the roads... for heavens sake do a Germany, make winter tyres compulsory from 1 Dec to 1 April and people will be able to drive properly.

        None of this is rocket science, none needs a committee, what it needs is someone with some brain to look at what can and should be done and get on and do it. HMG kind of reminds me of Life of Brian... only when its for real its not nearly as funny.

    2. David Gosnell

      Offers of help

      Considering previously rejected offers of practical help at times of self-evident crisis, doesn't this put BAA on a par with the governments of China, Burma etc?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    what they can and cant do....

    as the airport IS private property they can enforce a "no photographs please" and failure to comply they CAN ask you to leave the property. Failure to comply can result in the police being called to have you removed for tresspass.

    and no point can they tell you or make you delete the photographs of video you have taken.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What do you mean by "private property"?

      And which pieces of land in the UK are not "private property", in your opinion? Snowdonia National Park? Nope. It belongs to Snowdonia National Park Authority and various other organisations.

      Nevertheless, whenever something fascist happens you can guarantee that there will dozens of commentards saying it's all fine because it's "private property".

      Personally I think they should make a forward-looking law that makes all photography bans illegal as they are discriminatory against cyborgs. (I'm semi-serious about that.)

      1. Steen Hive
        Thumb Up


        "Nevertheless, whenever something fascist happens you can guarantee that there will dozens of commentards saying it's all fine because it's "private property".

        Nothing a public threat of nationalisation won't solve. ;-)

        Privatised by-laws should only be allowed in a handful of circumstances.

      2. EvilGav 1

        Here be a title

        The airport is a publicly accessible place, but is owned by a private organisation - this means that you are entitled to walk in and out, generally doing as you please, but if you are asked not to do something or be evicted, they have every right to do so.

        Any publicly accessible area, owned privately, is the same - do as you please (legally), unless expressly asked to do otherwise or an express rule says otherwise.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Photo bans on private property

        Quite a few museums and art galleries have photography bans, and not just flash photography. The bans are clearly to protect their market in trinkets and future admission fees.

        Perhaps BAA are planning a repeat performance every winter, with souvenir re-creations of the chaos available in the airport shop?

      4. Anonymous Coward

        You'd be surprised

        Generally when you're on private land you are technically "invited" by the landowners to be there. If you have not been authorised then you could be open to accusations of trespass. 9 times out of 10 pictures and video by the public on private land, are at the discretion of the land owner.

        Pictures on the London Underground are technically forbidden. Y ou have to have a permit, even amateurs have to apply for the permit or did about 10 years ago. The Underground is private property and you are "invited" to use the service to get somewhere, else you have no business being there. I wanted to take pictures of each station for personal portfolio and I had apply to LT for a generic permit to do so. Each time you go to a station, you must sign the fire-register in case of alerts and carry ID at all times, even as an amateur. So tourists snapping the underground are technically breaking the LT rules by snapping without permits!

        I was once thrown off the land at the front of the City Hall building in London one morning while taking photos by some security guard. I moaned and asked him if he was going to stop the 10,000 tourists that will pass through that day, if they will be stopped too? Fell on deaf ears of course. I complained to the landowners of the area next to Tower Bridge, I was told that the land along the south bank of the Thames is more less all private property, amateur photography is "allowed" but "Pro's" must have a license to shoot anything on the waterfront, it's private property!

        The National Trust for example do not allow "Pro's" to shoot anything on NT property without a permit, amateurs can take pictures "by default" but again it's at the discretion of the management. Lugging my bag of SLR kit in one day, I was asked by two NT staff if was a "Pro" as I would not be allowed to take photos unless I got written permission from the NT HQ first!

        It's quite pathetic but the law is on the landowner's side and you as a snapper are generally viewed as a scumbag, trouble-maker out to paint companies in a bad light, when all you want is a few nice shots or some abstracts of the architecture.

        Surprisingly the best place I have ever shot is London Docklands, the security down there were the nicest and most tolerant I have ever met, even making sure all the guards left me alone to get on with it!

      5. TeeCee Gold badge


        My house and garden = Private property. Mine and if you don't agree with the rules I say apply within you can fuck off.

        The pavement and road outside = Public property and anyone can use it (within the law).

        Heathrow airport is owned by BAA and they get to make the rules there.

        You are an ignorant troll and I claim my five pounds.

      6. Chris Miller

        Private Property

        Fair point that there are very few areas of the UK that are not private property (most beaches are not, which puts us one ahead of the US at least). But there's an obvious difference between the Snowdonia National Park and Heathrow Airport (the latter has a big fence round it, specifically to keep the public out).

        Generally speaking, you can take pictures of private property (eg somone's house, but not MoD premises) from a public right of way. But if you're inside someone's property (and not on a public right of way), your right to take photos may be restricted. I'm not sure how the relatively new 'right to roam' affects this - anyone know?

      7. Kevin Johnston

        "private property"

        It's all to do with the definition of public place which is (approximately):-

        an area to which the public have access or which members of the public are to be found without having obtained access either by overcoming a physical obstruction or in defiance of prohibition express or implied

        BAA own the land on which Heathrow is built and as such permit the public to access it for the purpose of either flying or delivering/collectiong someone who is flying.

        OK, they also let people who have no life stand there watching aircraft land and take off again and again and again..... ah OK, yes I see your point, they COULD watch that if it was actually happening.

        They can withdraw that permission at any time even if it makes them look like total control freaks who are 10 minutes behind the decision loop.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          The question is ...

          ... not whether they have the right to stop photography, but whether they should use it. Once again, we have the black letter lawyers (the stupidest form of humanity) saying "They can do what they want, just bend over and accept it", Well, here is the crux of the argument - yes, it is private property (there is no doubt about that), but the decisions being taken to (apparently) pretend that there isn't a problem are, quite simply, wrong, morally and practically.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      thumbs down?

      lol,, please explain the thumbs down.. the above is statement of fact. what are you dissagreeing with? the fact they cannot make you delete your pictures or the fact that on private propery you have to abide by the land owners wishes?

  13. PJ 1

    Whilst broadly in favour of freedom of speech

    anything which stops the BBC (and, in fairness, just about every other major media outlet) trawling the airport to find the most irrational, frothing at the mouth, plank imaginable and putting their ill-formed views on the Daily Mail section of the 10 o'clock news is to be applauded.

    And clearly this is working as they appear to have been reduced to interviewing someone from Helsinki airport about how they never have problems with snow ( Nordic countries better capable of handling snow. Nice one BBC.

    OT: Pretty stupid publicity fail there though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong choice of interviewee

      The person they were using as their main interviewee the other day was trying to get to an airport which had been closed since Friday night. It isn't just LHR which has been shut.

      1. Graham Marsden

        I think you mean...

        ... "wrong type of interviewee"!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Im sure if you try to film they will simply accuse you of being a terrorist

    Im sure if you try to film them without their press officer they will simply accuse you of being a terrorist.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jon Snow was most upset at the blackout

    to the extent that he was imploring viewers who know a Heathrow hostage to get them to forward any and all illicit footage for tonight's C4 news

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. mhoulden

      Re: Jon Snow

      Sounds like the weather caused him a few personal problems as well: Meanwhile, has anyone heard from Nick Winterton since this weather began?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    if photography is banned what about a sketch artist?

    if photography is banned what about a sketch artist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      And for interviewing distresssed passangers

      an army of Korean animators

  17. My Alter Ego

    I'd offer, but ...

    My flight was cancelled.

    What I'd like to see is two sets of numbers:

    How much money BAA has lost?

    How much money the plant equipment required to keep things going would cost.

    Finally, what kind of company refuses free help? Extra help, more flights, less cancellations = more income.

    Airlines are just as blinkered. I called up Aer Lingus and asked them if they'd give me a full refund if I cancelled my flight so I wouldn't have to trek down to Heathrow (it was the last flight, so labelled as scheduled), and then drive back when it finally gets cancelled. My reasoning was that I'll probably get a refund anyway, and if the flight goes ahead then there'll be a standby seat available for somebody who really wants it (and is willing to pay through the nose, so extra profit). Response? "that's not how it works" & "I don't make the rules". As it was I found it was cancelled before I got to park, but after I left.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      just be glad...

      ...That you didn't find out -after- you parked but -before- you left...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is an answer for you here:

      Quote: "Finally, what kind of company refuses free help? Extra help, more flights, less cancellations = more income".

      A company where positive thinking is mandated into the company culture. In other words this means nearly _ANY_ _LARGE_ UK company because that is what the corporate wellbeing gurus say and that is what Business schools and people with pen and noteboards recommend.

      In order to accept free help you need to acknowledge to yourself and to the world that situation is _FUBAR_. If you have been mandated to think positively about your company achievements and your company handling of the situation you will never do that. If you have had one of those special HR meetings where your "negative attitude" and the mandate of positive thinking have been discussed in the context of you leaving the company you will not dare to even have the thought.

      Similarly, it is clear what needs to be fixed so companies accept help when it is needed. Next m***f***er to say the words "positive thinking" - take out the back and shoot him.

    3. Dave 15 Silver badge

      free help

      HMG shouldn't 'offer' free help, it should tell BAA (and in other cases railways, councils, highway people, and other 'required services' that they are failing and the army (if only we still had one) were going to fix the problem right away.

      All this 'do you want us to help the collasal f****** up that you've made of clearing up a little bit of snow' really makes me sick. We should clear it up for them then force them to get the machines and manpower necessary to avoid the problem next time. Never mind the shareholders or company feelings. In order to assist BAA (and similar) to respect their obligation to provide the promissed service in the face of a little bit of snow (and compared to places with real winters it is a little bit) is to charge them an astronomical fine for each and every flight/ train/ car... delayed. And I do mean astronomical.

      1. Anton Ivanov

        You are missing the point

        BAA has no service obligations regarding extreme weather. It is a proprietor of the airports not a licensee. Neither have most of the other companies you mentioned even those operating licenses and franchises. Trains have a bit. But they are allowed to wiggle out of it one time too often.

        If they _HAD_ a service obligation the service would have been there (if not the first time, definitely the second time).

  18. Rogerborg
    Thumb Up

    Good news from Central Services

    Tomorrow, the flight ration will be increased from 300 flights to 200.

  19. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Barmy Army?

    They didn't want the Army there to clear the runways.

    It was to clear the backlog of bolshy passengers in the terminals.

    Now I couldn't possibly comment on how that would be accomplished but some of you may have noticed that I seem to have selected an inappropriate icon. ;-)

    After several years of doing the mad Xmas dash I have had enough.

    If people want to see me for Xmas they can come to me.

    I'm staying at home. It's more comfortable than traffic jams or airport floors.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Bravo, AC!!

      I totally agree!

      <--Have a merry Christmas!

  21. Alan Dougherty

    @My Alter Ego

    I'd seriously doubt that the help offered by HMG would be free..

    More just, 'here's some boots on the ground, tell them what you need done; they bring their own equipment, bills in the mail'..

    Nothing is free..

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      @ Alan Dougherty

      Do you have any evidence for that? Seriously, I'm interested, and I don't know whether that would happen.

    2. Mr Young

      I think you're correct...

      I wondered why they would refuse help and remembered this article-

      It seems Edinburgh Council will be paying for the Army assistance with clearing snow this winter. Have a beer

  22. M Gale

    This reminds me...

    ...of the time that Network Rail decided, for some bizarre reason, that it'd be a really good idea to close every single line between the north and south of England, in order for "essential upgrades". All at the same time.

    I was heading from Cornwall to Merseyside at the time; an epic, arse-numbing journey that ended up taking over 15 hours of trains and buses. While waiting for two hours at Birmingham, I decided to whip out the camcorder and pan it over the masses of waiting crowds for the enjoyment of the people back home.

    I was promptly pulled over by some snotty guy in a high-vis and told that I could either delete the images, or be escorted from the station. Well, I recorded over a couple of minutes of nothing with the lense cap on, and kept the juicey stuff. Captured some nice audio of the jack-booted bastard while I was at it.

    At some point I'll get myself one of those analogue-to-digital thingumijiggers and youtube the lot of it, but anyway, this is not an unknown phenomenon. Companies don't like to be embarrassed, and they and their minions will stop at nothing to ensure their image remains untarnished.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Have you a webcam?

      A crude way of doing it - point the webcam at the video playback and record it again - the results won't be wonderful but good enough to upset the morons involved.

  23. Tempest

    BAA - upholding the history of British transportation incompetence

    BAA should be congratulated on having learned little on running airports efficiently, and their incompetence in handling a few inches of snow and a couple of degrees of cool.

    Next we'll be hearing about it being the 'wrong type of snow', just like the railways were brought to a halt by 'the wrong type of leaves' that impeded train movements.

    Using the woman from Helsinki to detail their snow clearance techniques was appropriate - she was on several channels - as Helsinki airport is a gateway airport but not as large or wealthy as Heathrow. If they can keep the runways clear it only serves to highlight the continuing incompetence of BAA.

    As for photography, even the idiots that mismanage Heathrow must recognise people take pictures, especially on their arrival in or departure from a country. Just because a facility is privately owned doesn't take away from the fact that it is a public facility, it's reason for being is to allow members of the public to board aircraft - therefore if a person has a ticket they have a lawful reason to be there.

    Just because terms and conditions are posted n a web site doesn't infer sufficient notice has been given with respect to photography as it is not necessary to visit a web site in order to travel. If these conditions were printed on every ticket BAA might have better luck in claiming passengers should know about no photography.

    However the chances that a court would uphold such conditions in non-airside areas of an airport are minimal and BAA would be very dumb to enforce such a rule to the point of litigation.

    But given we are dealing with BAA the chances are good they would demonstrate their stupidity, just like London Plods have in the recent past.

  24. Winkypop Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Control the message

    Shut down the channels you can't control....

    PR 101

  25. Anonymous Coward

    how is that fair

    so at airports they can use the perv scanners on you(keep the images for m@$terb@t!ng on later).Touch your "junk" and then find out your flight(or connecting) has been cancelled/delayed,etc,and you can record/log whats happening as evidence to get a refund.

    And top of that they are refusing help form the only person who can help them out.

    BAA really needs to get their @r$€ kicked.

  26. Xenobyte

    Doesn't apply to everybody...

    Here in Denmark both major television networks had reporters at Heathrow and St. Pancras reporting live about the chaos yesterday evening, complete with interviews with delayed travellers, so it doesn't seem like there's a general blackout in effect...

  27. Brangdon
    Thumb Up

    What kind of company refuses free help?

    Adding manpower to a late project makes it later. That's Brooke's Law. In this case, it's quite possible that administering the army crew would distract from doing the work. They'd have to be coordinated with the airport's crew, maybe shown how to use equipment or whatever. It takes time. BAA imply they would have used the army had they been offered earlier. I don't know if BAA made the right call, but it's possible.

    1. The First Dave


      Clearly you and/or BAA have never seen the Army at work during a civilian emergency scenario - they will simply get on with whatever looks worthwhile until someone tells them otherwise. The army has plenty of shovels of its own, and quite a few mechanical diggers, bulldozers and dump-trucks so there is no question of them using BAA's kit.

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Quite a simplification

      Brookes law is (a) not quite that simple (b) not universal. That aside, BAA had 2 runways, and apparently hundreds of aircraft stands needing clearing. Not that much effort - about 2 minutes - to say to the army ... take a bunch of bulldozers there and shovel the snow to here, and take a bunch of people with shovels here and pile the snow there...

      Not like it requires specialist training.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Interesting facts...

    Ok. Let me start by saying that I'm not here to blow BAA's trumpet, and agree (to an extend) with some of the more logical comments placed here (mostly relating to management :-) ).

    What I do want to state are a few info bytes when quoting how other airports deal with bad weather. I'm basically aiming this at the comment Tempest placed relating to Helsinki Airport (and can also be used for Anchorage Airport as mentioned on Radio 4 News yesterday). I would have personally used Amsterdam Schiphol Airport as a comparison, but they probably couldn't find anyone to speak about it as they've had a few issues themselves ;-)

    After a few minutes investigation and using some already known information, I came up with a couple of facts that put this 'mismatch' into context.

    1. Approx. 60 million people pass through Heathrow per year. Helsinki passes approx. 12.5 million.

    2. Heathrow has 2 runways. Helsinki has 3.

    3. Heathrow has 5 Terminals. Helsinki has 2.

    4. Helsinki historically has much colder weather than London with the temperature dipping into minus double digits for at least 2 weeks every year during the winter months. This in turn means that they are EXPECTING bad winters each and every year and so can plan for it accordingly as it is a constant.

    5. What are the gaps between aircrafts at Helsinki? Heathrow is approx 30/50 seconds. NOT a couple of minutes, therefore ANY slight delay has a massive domino effect down the line. This is mainly due to the fact that Heathrow is running at 98% capacity. The ONLY way to resolve this problem is with a third runway which has been denied.

    I fully accept that Helsinki doesn't have the budget of Heathrow, but it still doesn't change the fact that they are probably pumping a large percentage of there revenue into their bad weather fleet and supporting infrastructure.

    Its also worth noting that Gatwick (that is NOT owned by BAA anymore) has also had closures last week, but no one seems to be getting on the back of Gatwick's new owners even though I've been informed that they had just recently upgraded some of their cold weather fleet.

    I'm not getting on anyone's case, but the only way to completely resolve these issues are for a new airport (that has the scope to expand when needed in the future) in the Southeast or we have a major decline in passenger numbers wanting to travel by air in the future.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021