Flyers with elite status enjoy a certain cache among most legacy airlines—often enjoying seat upgrades, comped drinks, and free checked bags—but travelers who fly British Airways regularly say the airline’s new ‘Know Me’ initiative takes customer service a step too far.
Announced in early July, the ‘Know Me’ initiative is a new customer service program in which British Airways plans to equip agents and cabin crewmembers with iPads that they can use to access data about passengers—including Executive Club status, previous travel schedules, future travel plans, and special dietary restrictions. The most controversial aspect of the program involves encouraging cabin crewmembers to use Google images to search for photos of customers before they board.
These Google image searches are supposed to provide a way for flight attendants to be able to recognize and greet frequent flyers as they board their flights, however FlyerTalk members like angatol and dodgeflyer say the practice is “creepy” and potentially an invasion of privacy. FlyerTalk member MNManInKen is skeptical whether British Airways’ program will even work, since people with common names will be difficult to find in a basic Google search. “A lot of the pictures/info they get will be for someone else or simply wrong. I can’t see it going down well if they mistake you for someone else or talk to you about things [that have] nothing to do with you.”
Of course, British Airways is hardly the first travel company to institute this type of social recognition system. FlyerTalk member ian001 points out that hotels have been using similar tools for years. Starwood Hotels, for example, was accused of collecting information from guests’ LinkedIn profiles and other social networking websites back in 2011.
What’s your take on British Airways’ new initiative? Do you feel it’s an invasion of privacy, or would you appreciate the higher level of personal attention? Tell us in the comments.