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UK's British Airways to Google Passengers Prior to Flight

UK airline British Airways has made waves with new plans to Google passengers so it can greet them upon arrival for their flight. Dubbed "Know Me," the scheme is supposed to provide passengers with a more personal experience when travelling with the airline. London's Evening Standard writes that British Airways staff will use Google images to find pictures of passengers so they can approach them as they arrive at the terminal or plane. "Know Me" will also check data held by the airline to determine if you've had problems on one of your previous flights (such as delays) so that the crew can apologise to you when they see you.

While some people appreciate the gesture (after all, British Airways is merely calling upon publicly available information to improve the quality of your experience with them), some aren't happy with the creepy factor. The Evening Standard cites Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, as saying customers shouldn't have to deal with their airline snooping around for information about them on the internet.

"Since when has buying a flight ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you on the internet?," he's quoted as saying. "If British Airways want more information about us they can ask us for it, rather than ignoring people’s privacy and storing data without us having any idea what data they are storing."

However, British Airways says it is 'entirely compliant' with the UK's data protection act and that it's merely trying to improve customer service. "Know Me is simply another tool to enable us to offer good customer service, similar to the recognition that high street loyalty scheme members expect." BA said the Google Images search app will help the company recognise high profile travellers. In an earlier statement, BA said it was aiming to recreate the same recognition you might get when returning to your favourite restaurant.

How would you feel about an airline gathering this kind of information on you? Are you okay with, since it's publicly available, or do you think that it's a bit creepy, regardless of that fact? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • mrmaia
    Or they could pay Facebook/Google itself and "Know" pretty much everything about their passengers' lives. And don't forget the ads. :D
    Reply
  • bin1127
    I guess I should stop posting my bomb plots on facebook now.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    British Airways - I just checked the Facebook page for this guy in first class called Jamal, it says "Rockin' the Jihad like an OT (original terrorist!), wordup LOL!!!"
    Booking Agent - Yeah, cancel his ticket and say we double booked by accident
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Either don't leak your information online, or lodge a complain with Google to remove all queries relating to yourself, or just don't fly with British Airways if creeped out.

    Reply
  • bobusboy
    I don't see the point of this; it just seems like an invasive monitoring program designed to catalog a persons movements and interests by a private corporation in lieu of the government doing it (or in addition to I suppose.)

    The UK is a seriously messed up place in some ways.
    Reply
  • amigafan
    Clerk: Welcome to your flight mr. John, seats for you and the young lady who is obviously not your wife are ready sir!
    mr. John: er... thanks
    Clerk: Sit back, relax and congratulations on your garbage collector of the month award.
    Young lady: hey, you told me you are the managing director at Bestofmedia Group!
    Reply
  • TeraMedia
    I think this is absolutely wonderful. I also think that upon check-in, the airline should present each passenger with a CV and Google-dossier for each crew member, as well as the same for each ticket agent, gate agent, baggage handler, etc. that interacted with that customer. That way, each passenger will be able to really know who the BA employees they interact with are. Why make it so one-sided? And for that matter, why stop there? The BA employees who market on TV, create and authorize billboards, set pricing, and heck even run the company should all give their customers a chance to know them. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

    It's all or nothing. If BA isn't happy to share this level of information, they should not expect their customers to be happy about it.

    I pity someone like Salmon Rushdie - but less well-known - who writes a book that some segment of the population finds offensive. A single airline employee can easily make someone's life hell for several days. And can make it look like there was little recourse. The only thing BA passengers have going for them in this is that there are simply too many of them for the employees to get to know all of them at any level of detail.
    Reply
  • greenrider02
    What's the problem? They don't need your permission. It's not an invasion of privacy if it's publicly available information. If you don't want the information to be public... well, that's on you.
    Reply
  • house70
    greenrider02What's the problem? They don't need your permission. It's not an invasion of privacy if it's publicly available information. If you don't want the information to be public... well, that's on you.That. I am all for keeping info private, but once you posted it online... it's not private anymore.
    Would have been a problem if they started breaking into people's personal accounts... But not like this.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    greenrider02What's the problem? They don't need your permission. It's not an invasion of privacy if it's publicly available information. If you don't want the information to be public... well, that's on you.Google knows everything about you, if you wear womens underwear, if you like dog-porn, if you like anchovies - you sick wierdo
    Reply