Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) remains in a lot of hot water, even if his house doesn’t have any, for his trip to Cancun in the midst a major crisis in Texas. Much of the information about his travel was public knowledge, but United Airlines is investigating a data leak that revealed one piece of information that only a United employee would have had access to.
United Airlines Investigates Employee Data Leak On Ted Cruz Cancun Trip
On Wednesday, Cruz flew to Cancun with his wife Heidi and children. Texas was in the midst of a major storm which knocked out power and water for millions of Texans. Once others caught on about to the Cruz, trip, the Senator was pilloried in headlines around the world for his ill-advised trip.
At first, Cruz said he was just going to escort his daughters (it isn’t clear why Heidi could not do it herself, but let’s say for argument’s sake that Ted has elite status and his presence allowed free upgrades, lounge access, and potential upgrades for his family.
“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked us to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”
Well, turns out that was not the whole truth. A United employee leaked that Cruz was originally scheduled to return to Houston on Saturday but changed his return to Thursday.
Don’t read too much into reports that he “missed” his upgrade on the return, even though the following screenshot has been circulating:
Here’s the upgrade list for this afternoon’s flight from Cancun to Houston.
That’s assuming that “cru, r” is him. And I do. pic.twitter.com/CqfKa5rJfG
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 18, 2021
The flight went out with only 19/20 seats taken in the forward cabin with Cruz the lone passenger still on the upgrade list. In other words, he turned down the upgrade, likely to avoid another round of headlines that “Ted Cruz flies first class while Texans freeze.”
Back in Texas, he made media rounds addressing his trip and ultimately offered an apology for his lapse in judgment.
But per Politico, United Airlines is investigating how information about Cruz’s changed flight plans was leaked. A spokesperson confirmed:
“It’s against United’s policies to share personal information about our customers and we are investigating this incident.”
Such information would only be accessible by a United Airlines employee who had access to United’s reservation system and could pull up Cruz’s ticket, sift through its history, and see the change.
Sara Nelson, the powerful head of the Association of Flight Attendants, has taken responsibility for the leak but warned United to “drop it”:
Perspective: whoever the “leak” is, she/he/they have over 10k @united colleagues & families in TX who are freezing while their US Senator skips town & then tries to lie about it. @tedcruz is not a “customer,” he’s a public servant who has lied too many times. WE’RE ALL THE LEAK. https://t.co/NDs6935xim
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) February 20, 2021
If Sara Nelson wants to confess this, she should be fired. Her leak does serve the public in the sense that it betters helps residents of Texas to hold their junior Senator accountable. But that does not justify her or any United employee breaking United’s contractually-agreed privacy policies to serve the public good. The employee who chose to leak this information should be willing to suffer the consequences for doing so, for leaking passenger data sets a dangerous precedent.
I suspect one problem will be that dozens of employees likely accessed Cruz’s record, perhaps many just out of curiosity. It will be difficult to pinpoint which employee leaked this information.
It’s very unfortunate Cruz tried to hide the fact that this was not a trip to escort his daughters but a four-day trip that was only changed after public scrutiny. At the same time, commending data leaks is a dangerous game. Personal information, even for a sitting U.S. Senator, should not just be leaked to the press.