Yesterday I was in the crew room when I saw Debbie, a flight attendant I've flown with before. We exchanged pleasantries, and then she exclaimed, "Oh, I heard that you do the blogging thing!" Oh, really? I certainly don't advertise the blog to Horizon crewmembers. "Yeah, I heard you have Sacramento pictures on there." I wasn't sure what she meant. She'd apparently been told this by a Q200 captain that I know, although I hadn't told him about the blog either.
Afterwards, I realized that I had indeed taken a picture of Debbie and the rest of the crew at a mexican restaurant in Sacramento, and it was on a post talking about how a good crew can make the difference between a so-so trip and a great trip. At the time, I didn't really give it a second thought. Now I wonder: would Debbie, or for that matter, the other crewmembers, be upset at their picture being on a public blog? It was one thing when I had a tiny circle of readers, mostly friends. Now that the blog is apparently becoming better known, such considerations take on a certain importance.
It can be awkward when the flying blogosphere meets the real world. Any honest portrayal of the airline world will include descriptions that are unflattering to certain companies or individuals. Bloggers must accept that there could be real-world consequences to what they post online. One blogger who found this out the hard way is Ellen Simonetti, aka Queen of the Sky. She was fired from Delta Airlines for posting provocative pictures of herself in uniform. Delta had no policy concerning employee blogs at the time. Many airlines still do not, including Horizon. The lack of clear guidance constitutes further risk.
The aviation blogosphere displays widely varying degrees of wariness. Aviatrix uses pseudonyms, not only for herself but the people and airlines she deals with as well, and she posts no pictures. Her identity is effectively hidden. Dave of Flight Level 390 and John of Freight Dog Tales keep their respective employers discreet, although it's easy to deduce who they work for. Although their identities aren't completely hidden, their employers would have less reason to take disciplinary action, since the airlines are not named. I myself don't use my last name but given that I disclose that I'm an ultra-junior FO on the Q400 at Horizon, anybody with a seniority list could figure it out in a heartbeat - to say nothing of the pics I post. My only protection, then, is watching what I post. I try to provide an honest portrayal of the job but CYA has to come into play.
This was seen in action recently on Glenn Calvin's RantAir. Glenn obviously uses his full name, and is upfront about which airline he flies for. One of his most recent posts was about a grouchy, somewhat overbearing captain he had to fly with (the guy shaped up after the first day, though). Initially Glenn provided details on what exactly this guy was doing. Then a reader commented that he could be opening himself up for trouble with the airline, and Glenn edited the post to include far less detail. It's too bad, because it was interesting to read and think what you'd do in that situation, but I think it was wise move on his part.
So. In my situation, having effectively disclosed my identity, what do you think I should and should not post? I still think criticism of upper management is fair game, as is comment on contract negotiations when they open next year. I'm inclined to be more discreet when talking about specific incidents on the line - in most cases, I should omit names, dates, and places. Aerial pictures and pictures of aircraft I don't see a problem with, but I'm going to try and refrain from posting pictures of fellow crewmembers. Your thoughts?