Airlines crack down on scary pictures: here’s why

Airlines have zero tolerance for these kinds of jokes. The 18-year-old Dutchman, who shared a picture of a plane crash on a flight from Rotterdam to Croatia, has ended up on the so-called blacklist and may not fly with Transavia for five years.

A 23-year-old man who flew Emirates from Amsterdam to Dubai on Saturday night was also arrested. His crash photo shared via AirDrop also contained threatening text. He’s still stuck. Both men may be charged with threats.

A joke with major consequences, which, according to the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, are completely justified. “We are taking this very seriously,” a spokesman said. “After all, by sending that picture in a plane, you’re insinuating that that plane is going to crash, too.”

‘You don’t say you have a bomb’

“If you’re in a small room, such an image can also seem very threatening,” he says. The strict action also has another purpose, says the spokesman: “We want to warn people about this: we absolutely do not tolerate this and take it very seriously.”

A spokesman for Transavia agrees. It must be clear that air travelers are meant to behave: “That way, everyone knows not to say you have a bomb in an airport queue ‘as a joke’.”

What is AirDrop?

AirDrop is a way to transfer files such as photos between iPhones. Android phones also have such a feature: close sharing. And to share something between Samsung phones, there is also a variant: Quick Share.

With the function you can, for example, send pictures to people who are nearby. Since the recipient sees what kind of photo someone is sending with AirDrop, it’s an ‘effective’ way to send an unwanted or threatening photo to many people in your area.

In addition to a crashed plane, there are also known incidents where a man shared a dick picture (pictures of his penis). Or unwanted messages from strangers, for example when you are sitting on the terrace. If you want to prevent this, it’s best to turn the feature on and only activate it if you actually need it.

But why exactly? Is this reaction to sharing a photo proportional?

Yes, says flight psychologist Josine Arondeus from the Valk Foundation. “Safety in aviation is number one, everything gives way to it. A plane crash is incredibly rare, but seeing a photo of it before flying can trigger anxiety or panic attacks.”

For many travelers, such a flight is already unpleasant. “Research shows that a third of passengers are uncomfortable on a plane and therefore more tense than usual,” says Arondeus. “Such an image is unpleasant and can go very wrong.”

It is therefore important to have peace and order in the cabin before departure. “If you as a woman are about to give birth, you don’t want to hear stories about how things went wrong with others, so you panic. It’s actually the same thing.”

Airlines have no reason to intervene extra. “This phenomenon is also relatively new, so we are looking at how it develops,” says Transavia. “There is still no reason to warn people extra, for example in the flight attendant’s conversation on board.”

This is no different for Corendon Dutch Airlines. “We trust the passengers’ common sense.” But these pranksters can also expect a place on their blacklist.

KLM says it will take appropriate measures if a passenger does such a thing. “This relates to measures that are also applied if passengers misbehave and do not follow the instructions of our crew.” For example, aggressive passengers risk being banned from flying with KLM or only under strict conditions.

How to set sharing settings

To use a sharing function, the smartphone must have WiFi and Bluetooth (AirDrop), Bluetooth and GPS location (Share Close) or WiFi (Quick Share) turned on. The function itself must also be activated. You can change who can send you files in your phone’s settings. On all phones, you can set that not everyone, but only people in your address book, can share something. This is useful if you rarely or never use the feature because it prevents unwanted requests.

  • AirDrop (Apple): Settings > General > AirDrop
  • Quick sharing (Samsung): Open the control panel by swiping the screen from top to bottom > find quick sharing and press and hold the icon to open settings
  • Share Nearby (Android phones): Settings > Google > Devices & Sharing > Share Nearby

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