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British Airways Gets Creepy: Airline will Google Passengers To Identifty Them By Face

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Jul 09, 2012 11:40 AM EDT

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British Airways is getting creepy, or as they claim, "personal." The airline will now Google passengers so they know who will be flying on their planes before they even reach the airport.

As part of their 'Know Me' program, British Airways will use Google to identify passengers and put a face to their name so staff can personally greet them before boarding. This program will be in effect so staff members can identify important passengers like chief executives of financial companies, so they can give them a more personalized service while knowing who they are before they reach the gate.

About 2,2000 British Airways staff members will be given access to iPads to Google passengers and search for their images before they board. The iPads can also receive messages about specific passengers from the airline's computer system, which will give customer service agents and cabin crew a heads up about who will be boarding the plane. They'll receive information like Executive Club status, previous travel arrangements, special meal requests and onward travel plans for each passenger.

 By the end of the year, around 4,500 passengers a day are expected to get a personal greeting after being Googled. The staff will also be able to find out customer's travel and complaints history so they can ensure passengers have a better experience on board.

Privacy groups are already going wild and attacking the service for being intrusive.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch told the Daily Mail 'Fundamentally British Airways have not asked their passengers' permission to search Google to find their picture or any other information."

"This goes to show that major international companies now recognize the best way to find out personal information about its customers is to ask Google," he continued.

British Airways thinks the program will be beneficial rather than cause problems. They want to use the program so that staff members can help customers and address their complaints more efficiently. They also said that what they're doing is legal as the service is compliant with with the UK Data Protection Act.

BA's head of revenue and customer analysis, Jo Boswell told the Daily Mail, "Solving problems at the point of failure is a lot more powerful than waiting until after the event. It is more powerful when customers don't have to repeat their stories to different departments within BA."

"High-profile travelers' and those who have experienced problems are expected to receive particular attention" she continued.

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