Date
19 November 2018
Since the massive data breach was announced last week, many Cathay Pacific passengers have been wondering why they have become loyal customers of the airline in the first place. Photo: Bloomberg
Since the massive data breach was announced last week, many Cathay Pacific passengers have been wondering why they have become loyal customers of the airline in the first place. Photo: Bloomberg

Here’s one way Cathay can win back the trust of its passengers

I am not what people would consider a lucky person. I have never won the Mark Six jackpot or grabbed any of the major prizes in lucky draws.

But after the massive data breach at Cathay Pacific, some people think I am truly lucky because seven of my personal details in the airline’s computer system had been leaked in the unauthorized access to the data of its 9.4 million passengers.

After Cathay management announced the cyber attack last week, or seven months after it happened, I visited a few chat groups and learned that many of affected passengers only had one personal information revealed in the cyber attack. I had seven – more than the six winning numbers in Mark Six!

These personal details include my name, title, nationality, phone number, email address, permit number, and flight number and date.

“Hey, you are so lucky, go and buy Mark Six,” a social media friend joked.

But this data breach is really no laughing matter. This is the world’s biggest data breach affecting an airline.

Later, I got a message from Cathay customer service, telling me that “your travel or loyalty profile was not accessed in full, and your password was not compromised”. That’s hardly reassuring.

Also, a video apology from the airline’s chief executive Rupert Hogg served little to repair the deep anxiety and sense of molestation that CX fans like me have felt as a result of the criminal invasion of our privacy.

Up to now, we don’t know what risks we have been exposed to as a result of the leak, and Cathay management’s decision to hide the fact from us for seven long months certainly won’t boost our confidence in the airline.

In fact, like the millions of other victims of this digital intrusion, I cannot help but wonder why I have been a loyal customer of Cathay Pacific in the first place.

Perhaps it’s because Cathay is a homegrown airline, it is “our” company, and its flight record has remained untarnished by any serious accident (fingers crossed!). Or maybe because we are all bound by its mileage system, and – like George Clooney in the romantic-comedy flicker Up In The Air – we are trying to accumulate frequent flyer miles.

For sure, Marco Polo Club is not affected by the data leakage. But nonetheless, there’s a suggestion that is gaining a lot of mileage, so to speak, on social media platforms. It says that Cathay should compensate affected passengers with loyalty miles.

One version of the suggestion is that the airline should pay 10,000 miles for each item of each passenger that was leaked. In fact, this suggestion has amassed a lot of “likes”.

I, too, am liking the idea. Hmm, in my case, if that ever passes the Cathay board, I would be entitled to a return ticket to London. Not bad, not bad at all. Hello again, Big Ben!

That, of course, assumes that Cathay Pacific won’t go under – not because it gives too many miles away, but because it fails to keep its loyal customers happy.

– Contact us at [email protected]

CG

EJ Insight writer

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