Have you ever worried about your personal information being stolen at airports when you’re using a wireless internet connection? If not, you probably should.
A while ago I wrote about WI-FI precautions to take when traveling. But even if you’re like FBI Special Agents Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar who have layers upon layers of security surrounding their wireless devices, your privacy still might be at risk.
This time it’s not hackers you need to worry about.
If you’ve never stopped to think about how much personal information an airline knows about you, you may be in for a surprise. Although air travel can be fun, it can certainly come with peril.
While researching Ten Two Jack, which is novel #7 in my Hunt for Jack Reacher series, I came across some fascinating information about airline practices.
Airlines have developed technology to collect and store information about their customers. If you’ve ever seen flight attendants checking their smartphones or iPads, they’re likely not just slacking off on the job. Many airlines now equip their staff with electronic devices filled with detailed information about the occupants on each flight.
You might expect your airline to be aware of any special needs, meal-preferences, or connecting flights. But how do you feel about a flight attendant congratulating you on your wedding anniversary or wishing you a happy birthday?
Airlines may know a variety of personal details about you, including where you live and how often you travel. They may even know your vacation preferences, vocation, or if you’ve had a negative travel experience recently.
More passenger data can allow flight attendants to cater to each customer’s individual needs. But can this go too far?
Most customers want some restrictions on how much personal information can be accessed and used. After all, for many people the feeling of being completely anonymous is one of the best perks of traveling.
Airlines are trying to figure out when personalized interactions could be considered invasive, amid growing concerns about how companies like Facebook and others are using personal data. ~ The Wall Street Journal
Another concern is that such technology allows airline staff to keep tabs on customer behavior even before they board a flight. For example, if a person drank too much or was unruly on a previous flight, the staff may choose not to serve alcoholic beverages. Some airlines like Alaska Airlines have created apps that allow their flight attendants to easily report harassment on their hand-held devices.
So… personalized data on airplanes. Is it worth it?
What say you? Do you think these personalized interactions are a good thing or are they an invasion of privacy?