British Airways Program Gets To Know Its Customers A Little Too Well

We’re not even sure it’s a good idea to Google a date before you get the chance to meet them in person (“Why such a large collection of tiny dolls?” etc.), so checking out passengers online before they arrive for a flight? That could get uncomfortable. A new British Airways program called “Know Me” has some privacy advocates worried that it gets to know its customers a little too much.

In the last year, the airline handed out iPads to its employees so they could search passenger data, saying it wanted to better serve VIP passengers. The employees would sift through information like past travel arrangements, food preferences and even check out Google images to get a glimpse at what a person looks like. That way, said British Airways, crew members could recognize travelers as they board, to make things more “personal.”

“We’re essentially trying to re-create the feeling of recognition you get in a favorite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers,” Joe Boswell, a spokesman for British Airways said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But privacy watchdog groups aren’t too pleased about the warm howdy-and-hello treatment based on online searching.

“Since when has buying a flight ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you on the Internet?” asked the director of the London-based privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Let this be where I make my preference for sitting next to nice-smelling, un-chatty people known on the Internet.

British Airways program upsets privacy groups [Los Angeles Times]