HOW THE WAR ON TERROR IS AFFECTING YOUR INFLIGHT MEAL - The Reykjavik Grapevine

HOW THE WAR ON TERROR IS AFFECTING YOUR INFLIGHT MEAL

HOW THE WAR ON TERROR IS AFFECTING YOUR INFLIGHT MEAL

Published July 23, 2004

Photos by
mother

The data on special fly-meal wishes from Icelandair passengers is among the bits and pieces of info the airline has agreed to hand over to the authorities in the U.S. This is part of the ongoing war on terrorism after 9/11. According to a news release from Icelandair, the company has been in consultation with the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Icelandic Data Protection regarding the handling of the U.S. demand to gain access to passenger booking information. It also says in the company’s statement that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavík will do its best to ensure the same protection regarding the use of this personal data as negotiated with the European Union on a similar request. Yes, Brussels wants to know too if you order a Muslim diet.

You´d better go for the special

Not that other special dietary wishes won’t raise concern in the Home Security departments on both sides of the Atlantic. Icelandair offers a variety of special choices, according to their web-site. There it says: “Some special meal options include kosher, vegetarian, low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, low calorie, Hindu, Muslim, Asian vegetarian, and many others.” Could it possibly be an indication of a terrorist threat if somebody asks for a vegetarian dish? This could mean that a deranged environmentalist was on board. Or what about low fat/low cholesterol? It almost has an anti-American sound to it. Will a kosher order sound an “all-clear” signal? Whatever the authorities in the States will do with the information, one thing is clear: there will be a lot of it. According to a revealing report in Morgunblaðið recently, an Icelandair spokesman worriedly told the paper that between 10-20% of the passengers wanted something other than the “today’s special” offered from the Icelandair kitchen. Some might maliciously wonder whether this might not be an expression of distrust towards the chefs rather than a political statement.

Name, rank, serial number and preferred meal choice

The meal info is not all, because what will also be reported are: your name, data of birth, address, telephone number and method of payment. So it will not only be known what usually is on your dinner table, it will be known where your dinner table is located and what astrological sign you’re in. ( I wonder if vegetarian Virgo’s will cause a greater concern than, for example, a low-cholesterol Taurus.). Then of course the valuable pieces of information: “method of payment.” Will it simply say “cash” or “credit/debit-card”, or will relevant bank information be submitted as well? And then, if “cash” is selected, will the one who paid with gold-insured paper money and order Muslim diet be more suspicious than the one who hands out a plastic card, made of oil?

For people who oddly think that the above information should be private, they still have no way of avoiding it if they want to travel to the U.S. It is mandatory for all airlines that fly to the country to submit this information, according to U.S. laws.

Which will no doubt make our world a safer place.

Next:
Previous:


Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Show Me More!