Surprised? Shocked? Outraged? Well, not quite that strong. Let’s go with “taken aback”. Yes, that’s it…I was taken aback when the flight attendant pitched a credit card promotion over the cabin speaker. Not just once…but on both legs of our flight. Apparently, the recent merger of two airlines (who shall remain nameless) sparked a very generous offer. The kind of offer you just can’t live without. After listening to the perks, the light bulb above my head is glowing like the mushroom cloud of a nuclear reaction. I finally understand why SO MANY passengers lined up for the “priority” boarding calls. Just check out a few of the benefits associated with carrying the airline’s card in your wallet…
- Double miles for today’s flight.
- Additional miles (enough for two free flights) with first charge.
- Tickets for two companion flights at $99 each.
- Access to the airline’s lounge.
- One free checked bag per flight.
- Priority boarding.
- 500 additional miles (today only).
As soon as the announcement ended, flight attendants walked the aisle with credit applications. A passenger two rows ahead caught the attendant’s attention. I didn’t hear the question but I can guess what was asked because I could hear the attendant disclose the “fine print” details of the promotion…The offer is valid only during today’s flight – NOT at the airport or online. The annual fee is $89. A specific section of the credit application (name, address, social security number) must be completed and the application number validated with the attendant. Blah…Blah…Blah…Blah…
My common sense “radar” went berserk causing my brain to seize up and forced me to stop listening for a few seconds. Let me get this straight. At a time when identity theft such a ginormous issue, is the airline REALLY going to require a passenger to disclose their social security number on a document left with the flight attendant?
Now to be clear…I’m not questioning the integrity of flight attendants. Adequate security measures may be in place but the announcement didn’t reveal any details on how this sensitive information would be secured. There could be a lot of hand-offs between collecting the application and delivering it to the individuals ultimately responsible for processing. Each hand-off offering a potential breach of security.
To satisfy my curiosity (like a good Business Analyst), I asked how the applications would be handled. The attendant’s response…“we have a drop box at the airport”. That’s it? You’re asked a question about the security of sensitive information AND the only answer you have is there’s “a drop box at the airport”? My risk-averse mind immediately launched a series of follow-up questions. But I didn’t press any further. Pursuit of an answer felt like an exercise in futility.
When the passenger expressed hesitation to the “fine print” requirements, a more “hard sell” tactic emerged. The flight attendant lobbied that the application should be completed, “If you are considering the credit card, you should go ahead and take advantage of today’s offer. You will only be charged the fee if you use the card when it arrives. So if you change your mind, just tear it up and cancel the account.” Hmmm…I wondered…Is there a contest to collect the most applications? Could a bonus be at stake?
Needless to say, this card will NOT be found in my wallet. Maybe I’m just overreacting…being paranoid. So, I have to ask…What do you think? Would you share your social security number for this type of promotion?