British Airways will turn to the Internet to run checks on first class and business passengers.
British Airways recently announced it will begin Googling first and business class customers.
This would provide check-in staff the details needed to provide these fliers with more customized service, according to the company. While some will no doubt appreciate the special attention, those who value their privacy might take issue with the practice.
British Airways is launching the practice as part of its "Know Me" program, where the goal reportedly isn't to completely creep out its fliers but rather to help check-in staff and cabin crew "put a face with the name" and provide customized attention to passengers based on their previous flying habits and preferences.
This could even include sending a personal message to high-profile fliers before they even reach the airport.
Essentially the idea expands on the information you already provide the airline about seat and meal preferences. In addition to helping staff recognize you, the type of data the airline hopes to collect boils down to things such as drink preferences, your favorite newspaper and recent travels — anything that will make you feel more spoiled on your journey.
Of course, Googling a person could turn up things you'd rather not have your flight attendant see or falls outside of the scope of traveling preferences. Things like that picture of you doing keg-stands in college that your old roommate posted on Facebook, or what you bought your niece for her sixth birthday.
Naturally, privacy advocates argue the campaign by British Airways is an invasion of privacy. After all, if a customer wants something special all they need to do is ask.
The fact is, in the name of customer service, British Airways already does a quick scan of flight manifests to check for recognizable VIP fliers to make sure they get the star treatment. That's something much easier to do with a person such as Donald Trump, where his personal preferences are likely to be widely known simply by watching TV. For other first class and business fliers, it may not be so transparent what they want without creating this customer service dossier.
So whether or not British Airway's first and business class passengers find being Googled in the name of better customer service cool or creepy will probably depend largely on the individual.
If you want to be treated like the rockstar you are (and you'd have to be to fly in first class), then this program is for you. If you happen to be an international spy or arms dealer, you might appreciate British Airways adding an opt-in feature when purchasing that expensive seat.