Airline banned photos after blogger posts picture of handwritten menu

Indonesia’s national airline Garuda sought to ban passengers from snapping photos during flights after a video blogger posted an image of a handwritten menu he was given in business class, according to reports.

Rius Vernandes — who has 121,000 followers on Instagram and 500,000 on YouTube — on Saturday posted photos and videos showing him holding the scrawled menu on a flight from Sydney to the city of Denpasar.

He captioned the photo, “The menu is still being printed sir,” the UK’s Guardian reported.

Vernandes was reported to police and could face criminal defamation charges under the country’s strict electronic transactions law, the news outlet reported.

His post appeared a week after Garuda was widely mocked for serving in-flight meals in business class from HokBen, a Japanese fast-food chain.

In a YouTube video he posted later, Rius said he did not mean to harm the airline’s reputation — and often reviewed the services of other airlines.

He also posted a photo on Instagram of two envelopes from police, calling him for questioning.

“I hope you can help share and support me through this problem because I don’t want to see that, in the future, whenever we review something as is, whenever we give constructive criticism, we can be criminalized,” he said.

A directive from the airline instructing flight attendants to stop passengers from taking photos and shooting videos was leaked Tuesday on social media.

Amid a public backlash, Garuda backtracked from its ban, saying the directive had been an internal document that was revised to make clear it was just appealing to passengers to respect everyone’s privacy when taking photos.

“This appeal is also based on reports, suggestions and input from customers/passengers who feel uncomfortable and disturbed by the shooting and documentation of activities without prior permission,” airline rep Ikhsan Rosan said.

“People can still take pictures [on board our flights] for their own use,” he added, “as long as they don’t disturb the other passengers”.

The airline also said the cheap menu – whose options included beef steak and crème brûlée — had not been intended for passengers, but as a notice for flight attendants.

Vernandes told his Instagram followers he had received an apology from the airline over the service on the flight, according to Reuters.

But police have confirmed that the airline had filed a defamation case against him. Those found guilty face fines of up to one billion rupiah — $71,600 — or six years in the slammer.

The head of Garuda’s labor union, Tomy Tampatty, told Tempo news that several airline employees had filed the police report because the post caused “a negative perception…towards the country’s national flag carrier.”

Rosan said the company itself had not filed a report, only “union employees.”

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