United Airlines Unleashes Its “Big Brother” App

Dear Rundown Reader,

It’s a story that borders on down right creepy.

An app so powerful its owners don’t trust it?

In the hands of a company that’s had nothing but bad press recently?

What could go wrong?

Today’s Rundown examines United Airlines’ latest plan to make in-flight service better.

But first a question from a reader:

“In your Market Rundown, everything is stated as up or down by a certain amount to its current level except Bitcoin. Why is Bitcoin not up or down by a certain amount to its current level?”

The main reason is Bitcoin trades 24/7. But also because prices are aggregated on major exchanges from regional price action. All prices noted in the Market Rundown are as of 8:00 a.m. each morning.

Your Rundown for Friday, June 22, 2018…

How Much Does United Airlines Know About You?

About three paragraphs down, a Wall Street Journal article from Wednesday notes…

United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) has a new app its flight attendants can use to offer you a better inflight experience.

The Journal also states the app has so much information on people, “the airline has been reluctant to turn on all the functionality.”

Way to bury the lead.

Can this be good?

Executives at United say yes.

United’s VP of technology speaking to Fortune notes: “We’re actually trying to arm our employees with information about who is seated in 7C so that our flight attendants can have a better way of interacting with them.”

This means happy birthday greetings. Or perhaps having your favorite cocktail ready and waiting as you board.

Speaking to The Journal, VP of inflight services also claims United staff having this data “allows them to engage with customers in a meaningful way.”

In theory we guess it could work.

Instant compensation for bad experiences is a potential feature that could be useful.

United also claims the app allows flight attendants to monitor connecting flights to give real-time updates to passengers.

Ok, that sounds good.

Another interesting feature Alaska Airlines uses with their version of this app allows staff to report sexual harassment incidents caused by passengers.

Nothing wrong there that we can see.

But other aspects are too Orwellian.

At least in the hands of United’s checkered flight staff.

Do you really want some person you don’t know having that much access to your personal data?

Can this be good for United, and airlines as whole?

Lots of questions and so few answers right now.

If we placed a bet today, we’d say this ends bad.

After all, Fortune notes 75% of people surveyed about this type of “personalized brand experience” find it at least a little creepy.

And we do too.

Now, turning to the markets this morning…

Market Rundown for Fri., June 22

Yield on the 10-Year Treasury sits at 2.913% this morning, up 0.016.

S&P 500 futures are up 12.00 to 2,764.

Oil’s up $0.95 at $66.49.

Gold’s up slightly to $1,271.

Bitcoin goes for $6,356 this morning, according to CoinDesk.

We’ll talk again on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

For the Rundown,

Aaron Gentzler

Aaron Gentzler

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Aaron Gentzler is the publisher of Seven Figure Publishing. He is also the editor of The Rundown. Aaron’s been with Agora Financial/Seven Figure Publishing for 13 years. He's been covering technology and markets for over a decade.

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