Airlines are experts at collecting vast mountains of customer data, including what sorts of credit cards and computers you use, how often you fly, and where and how much you spend on all the extras.
If you're stressing over a tight connection, flight attendants can usually tell you which gate to run toward, how much time you have, and whether your next flight is on time. But they may also know if you were stuck in Buffalo for six hours last week because of a delay, and offer a personal apology. They can even tap their data hoard to make sure there's plenty of red for the 2 million-miler who drinks only cabernet, or upgrade the woman on standby who got stuck in economy because she usually flies first class.
The swankiest hotels have long employed this strategy: If you feel special and loved, maybe you'll come back. Now the airlines have jumped on the bandwagon.
The industry has long envisioned a day when it could make use of all the information it's accumulated on you. That data has traditionally been segregated in various IT systems, but now many airlines are gradually funneling it into a customer service strategy-with flight attendants becoming the face of hyper-personalized service.
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