As at: March 2008
1. Exactly what data is stored in the reservation system which can now be viewed by US Customs?
The reservation system stores all the information which is collected when a flight is booked. Such as:
- The passenger’s name
- Travel itinerary, with details of the flight, any possible connecting flights and the operating airline carrier
- Details of where the flight was booked (travel agent, etc)
- Ticket number
- Payment method, possibly the credit card number
Hotel and hire car reservations, as well as details about any special services required on board the aircraft or at the airport, can also be stored in the Passenger Name Record (PNR). Special services include, in particular, precautions to be taken for passengers with medical conditions, and any special dietary requirements. We should point out that to some extent you yourself can influence the information held about you in the PNR. As you decide about a service or payment method, for example, you should be aware that these details will be stored in the PNR.
2. Does this only concern data on passengers who have booked flights to the USA, or does it involve data on all of your airline’s customers?
It only involves flights which touch down in the USA.
3. Are details of flights which connect with a US flight disclosed?
Yes, if a journey includes connecting flights to a US flight, details of the connecting flights are also stored in the PNR and therefore affected by the disclosure.
4. Is customer information from your airline’s frequent flyer programme affected?
No, this information is not affected. It is not disclosed.
5. What happens if a passenger does not agree with the disclosure of his/her information?
Even if a customer expressly objects to his/her personal information being passed on, this objection cannot be complied with because of the conflicting US legislation.
6. Which airlines have to give the US authorities access to the reservation system?
US law compels all airlines which fly to, from or within the United States to disclose this information.
7. Does Lufthansa pass on reservation information to the authorities in countries other than the USA?
Apart from the USA, information on individuals from the reservation system is currently only sent to the Canadian authorities. This transmission of data, which only affects passengers flying to Canada, covers less information than that required by the USA. Because Canada has similar standards of data protection to Europe, the transmission was, without hesitation, classed as covered by data protection legislation.
8. Airlines also pass on passport information to the customs authorities of certain countries. What’s that about?
For flights to an increasing number of countries it is a legal requirement to forward passengers' passport information (the so-called 'Advanced Passenger Information System'* or APIS); in the near future this will also apply to flights within the EU.
This should be differentiated from the authorities' access to reservation information, as it only applies to passport information (*) which is transmitted immediately after the relevant flight departs.
(*) last name, first name, date of birth, nationality, passport number, sex. With machine-readable passports, this information is captured electronically whilst passengers are preparing to board. The US authorities also require an address in your destination country.