‘Muslim’ meals could be used to profile passengers, airline tells authorities

In-flight meal choices of international passengers could be a potential profiling tool for national authorities, a senior airline manager has told border officials.
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.
This information is currently not available to national authorities, and the Swiss airline has insisted that it never intends to pass such information on.
“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.
In addition to special meals for Muslim and Jewish passengers, Swiss’s in-flight service also caters to the dietary requirements of Hindu passengers.
“These menus are prepared in strict accordance with the respective customs and rites,” the airline says on its website.
Commercial airlines and private jets already provide governments with a large amount of data about travellers before they board, and face steep fines if they fail to do so – but meal preferences are not currently part of that information.

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