Garuda Indonesia Reverses Photo Ban Amidst Public Backlash

Jul 18, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Amidst a public relations nightmare, Indonesian flagship carrier Garuda Indonesia has reversed a recent injunction banning passengers from taking pictures and video on board.

On July 13, Indonesian travel vlogger Rius Vernandes discovered a handwritten note that he described as the menu for business class passenger meals on his Garuda Indonesia flight from Sydney (SYD) to Bali (DPS). Vernandes shared his discovery on his social media channels, along with his thoughts on the matter.

The response, both positive and negative, was swift. Vernandes has more than half a million followers on YouTube and more than 122,000 followers on Instagram, whose quick comments and reshares made the menu go viral. The viral discovery led to widespread online mockery of Garuda Indonesia, the nation’s flag carrier.

The airline did not take lightly to this. Garuda Indonesia distributed an internal memo to employees the following day, July 14, stating that passengers and flight crew were to be banned from taking in-flight photos and videos.

And just three days later, Vernandes posted images of two letters from the Indonesian police, demanding that he and his travel partner appear before authorities for questioning. Indonesia’s strict electronic transactions laws may result in Vernandes and his fiancée facing defamation charges, according to Reuters.

Vernandes appealed to his followers and “fellow influencers” for support, saying, “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.”

In response to severe public backlash, Garuda backed down from its anti-photo policy within days, claiming that the memo was just an appeal for passengers to respect the privacy of other travelers and flight crew on duty.

“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,” Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan told Reuters, adding that there was no correlation between Vernandes’s post and the internal directive.

Tomy Tampatty, the head of Garuda’s labor union, told reporters that the police report against Vernandes had been filed by several airline employees, not the airline itself. Tampatty said that the employees felt the vloggers were “causing a negative perception…towards the country’s national flag carrier,” according to Reuters.

Even before the menu incident, Garuda Indonesia has struggled with bad publicity for some time. Just two weeks prior to Vernandes’s menu discovery, the airline was criticized for serving business class passengers food catered from Japanese fast food chain HokBen. The carrier has also been under heavy financial scrutiny.

Featured photo courtesy of Rius Vernandes via YouTube.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.