This is not another post attacking SHARES, United’s Passenger Service System (PSS). But it is a reminder that the system still has kinks in it, some of which should cause United far greater concern than the many upgrade irregularities that have been reported.
Take a look at this story.
I was trying to buy a last-minute flight, shopping around to get a reasonable price. I had several tabs open to various airlines, and was searching on and off for a few hours. I finally made a decision and decided to purchase a ticket from United Airlines.
I picked a seat and was presented with a page to enter my info for the TSA (pretty standard these days). United had recently updated their site’s interface and had a dropdown to select saved passengers. I clicked the dropdown and was surprised to see a large number of names, none of which were mine. I looked down the list, noticing patterns in people with the same last name, and realized what I was likely looking at: the passenger manifest for the flight.
My point in sharing this story is not to go into the nuances of front-end or back-end security at the new United. I am certainly not alleging United willfully displayed this information and am aware little breaches like this happen from time to time.
But, this situation admittedly concerns me. When I book a flight, I’d like to think that my information will be kept private. It’s bad enough that anyone calling United (or most airlines) on my behalf can get my flight and other personal information just by identifying themselves as me. This situation, though, is like taking candy from a baby. I tried to reproduce this problem but could not. Perhaps it truly was just a one-off, but I have to doubt that.
Bottom line, mistakes like this happen, but are evidence of careless error. Let’s hope there are not more careless errors that we just have not picked up on yet that compromise our personal information.