BA in spotlight over customer privacy

British Airways (BA) plans to research passengers using Google search prior to their flights. The search of images would facilitate British Airways team to ‘recognise specific customers so they can be proactively approached’.

A British Airways spokesperson told PL&B: "We are entirely compliant with the UK Data Protection Act and would never breach that.”

"Know Me is simply another tool to enable us to offer good customer service, similar to the recognition that high street loyalty scheme members expect. For example, it could flag up that a customer is travelling in business class for the first time so our crew can approach them and check if they need any information about the seat. Alternatively, if someone has experienced a delay due to weather in the past then our customer service staff can apologise for that and thank the customer for continuing to fly with us. It could also advise our staff if a customer prefers not to be approached with messages when onboard.”

The airline is aiming to send 4,500 personal recognition messages a day by the end of the year. BA did not respond to PL&B's question on the need for their customers' consent for the collection and use of their photographic images in this way.