Although I have not seen them in use yet, United Airlines has recently equipped all flight attendants with an iPhone 6 Plus to “deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.” That includes safety manuals, food and drink info, and…personal information about you.
The concept is brilliant — a FA can use the work-issued iPhone to pull up the itineraries of each passenger, offering the ability to provide accurate connecting gate info, rebooking options in case of downline delays or cancellations, and even extra personal info, such as your birthdate in case a FA wants to wish you a happy birthday.
Wait, really? Yeah, apparently the software will carry the dates of birth of each passenger onboard and United is defending it, referencing Flyertalk as the reason it is not creepy–
Flight attendants have recognized milestones of our most frequent travelers, including birthdays or achievement of million-miler status, for many years, and customer feedback has been consistently positive. Enabling them to access those milestones via their handheld devices simply makes the process easier, and we are certain customers will continue to appreciate the recognition that they have come to expect given their loyalty.
The following link will take you to a conversation on the frequent-flyer forum FlyerTalk, where customers express how much they enjoy United recognizing milestones like birthdays.
But the app will allegedly contain telephone numbers and addresses as well. Is such information necessary, especially when United’s technology is already prone to data breaches?
I’m going to defend United here — I think empowering FAs to assist passengers with in-flight rebookings and to recognize loyal travelers and even unloyal travelers who might just be flying on their birthday or another special day is good business. But as we read about a new data breach each day in the news, I trust United is taking adequate steps to protect the security and privacy of each passenger onboard.
Read more from Gawker / Photo Courtesy United Newsroom