How much do airlines know about you?

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British Airways/Nick Morrish/Cedar Communications

Airlines are using mountains of data to improve service

Airlines are becoming experts at collecting and making use of mountains of customer data, from what you buy to what kinds of credit cards and computers you use, Bloomberg reports.

Using this data, cabin crew not only tell you which gate to run to for your next flight, but will also know you were delayed for six hours on your previous flight with the airline and offer a personal apology.

They may also make sure there’s the correct wine on board for the regular flier who drinks only cabernet, or upgrade the passenger on standby who usually flies first class but got stuck in economy.

Airlines are gradually funnelling all the information has on you into a customer service strategy, assigning cabin crew to be the face of this hyper-personalised service.

At a conference sponsored by The New York Times, United Continental chief Oscar Munoz said, “We have enough data about who you are, where you fly and more importantly, over the last period of time when we’ve delayed you, cancelled you, made you change your seat, spilled coffee on you, we have the points of failure and the points of success.”

Delta’s cabin crew now use new software called SkyPro on their Nokia devices to keep tabs on each passenger – and each passenger’s history with the airline. If a seat on the seat plan is red, for example, the attendant must apologise for a previous error by the airline and offer loyalty points or a travel voucher on the spot.

Getting creepy
But some carriers are asking, how much information is too much? A flight attendant suddenly wishing you a happy birthday or giving you your favourite drink without you asking may seem creepy.

“It’s a feel-good thing, but it’s also in the mind of the consumer, ‘If they know my birthday, what else do they know about me?’” cautions John Romantic, American Airlines’ head of flight service.

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