Oy, file this under “what were they thinking?” Governments collect a lot of information about airline passengers, often before they even arrive in the country. However, there are limits to the data that can be collected, as it doesn’t include things like religion (at least not officially).
However, at a recent border security conference in Hungary, Swiss’ facilitation and security manager had some interesting things to say. Per Middle East Eye:
Marina Ripa-Braescu, the facilitation and security manager for Swiss International Air Lines, told a conference on border security in Hungary last week that information about pre-ordered meals could be used to help governments find out more about those travelling to the country before they arrive.
“For example, if they order a Muslim or kosher or vegetarian meal, you already start to know a little bit about that person,” Ripa-Braescu said, referring to the halal meals that Muslim passengers can order.
After the comments got out, the airline backpedaled a bit, though still sort of justified the statement:
The Swiss airline on Thursday clarified the comments, stating that it would never hand over such information, but that such data could be “interesting” and of use to authorities.
So it would never hand over such information, but such data could be “interesting” and of use to authorities? Hmmm…
Perhaps the comment was taken out of context, or perhaps the idea was just poorly thought out. Regardless, I’d guess that someone boarding a plane with bad intentions has bigger priorities than ordering a special meal.