United Airlines Is On The Hunt For Who Leaked Ted Cruz’s Flight Reservation Data

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Not sure how much of a “leak” it is when he’s flying public, on the UA upgrade list, and his wife’s chatty text messages (totally contradicting his initial story BTW) and travel plans are discussed.


  2. Imagine if A.O.C.s data was leaked! You leftist would be in a rage. The flight attendant union is defending the leaker.

    Why the hypocrisy?

  3. I have been employed at 2 large consumer tech companies and it is drilled on day 1 that any access to customer records, even our own, better have an ironclad business need or we are immediately fired. You will be walked out by security and you don’t get a chance to collect your personal items from your desk (they are shipped back to you). You lose unvested stocks which for the average employee is probably $1 million because tech comp is high to begin with and QQQ is a money printer. I’ve personally seen these firings happen so it’s not a toothless threat. Although the firing isn’t instant per se; internal security teams take 2-3 days to investigate.

    Airline employees obviously have a business need to access customer records on a routine basis. But even if multiple employees accessed Ted Cruz’s records, all of them who lacked a reason would be subject to termination if United follows the norms of FAANG.

    Privacy is really important even when it comes to d bags like Ted Cruz.

  4. The so-called leaker did a public service by exposing this corrupt, inept, and hypocrite politician. S/he should be given a medal!

  5. Warren Trout….Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not part of this story. She didn’t commit this egregious error of judgement. Ted Cruz did.

    Want to make an observation here? It would be that “rightist” snowflakes are always trying to deflect. “What about her emails” indeed.

  6. Kalboz, the ends don’t justify the means and in any case we were not lacking in proof that Ted Cruz sucks dry donkey balls.

  7. Is Sara Nelson a UA flight attendant? Seems like she could be fired for talking about a customer that way.
    FWIW, Cruz was certainly a fool for giving his opponents a great story to run with. There was almost certainly nothing more Cruz could do for his constituents by staying in Texas. This is just optics: anyone who was not a politician and took his family to Cancun during an ice storm with no power would be a hero. And there’s no evidence Cruz “lied” about the trip (although people who hate him are getting into the weeds trying to discredit the minute details about what led to the vacation). Bottomline, Cruz is a big boy who deserves criticism for making a political mistake, but anyone who thinks the media is being “fair” here is just channeling their general Cruz hatred.

  8. UA needs to FIRE the employees responsible for this. Unacceptable regardless of who the person is or what their party affiliation is. Enough already with all of this damm public shaming!

  9. Hey, “Trout.” It’s a whole lot more than your handy “leftists” that are furious with Cruz. The GOP appears to be working overtime to show the world where their “government is the problem” and No Regulation mantras have led- more and more problems and avoidable human suffering. In any event, I’m guessing you wouldn’t have posted here if AOC’s flight data was disclosed.

  10. Maybe the leak of the fact that Ted Cruz lied about his travel plans came from someone beside a United rep.

    The US Government has a massive surveillance state that has access to booked air travel plans.

    The Ritz Carlton near CUN may have had his itinerary too.

    Cruz’s wife or daughters may have shared or otherwise been the provider of the initial trip booking info.

    Cruz’s security guard who was assigned to take care of his dog Snowflake also probably had a window in Cruz’s plans.

    Cruz’s office staff may also have had access to his travel plans, as it’s become increasingly common for federal legislators’ staff to try to coordinate police assistance at airports being used by their bosses.

    Maybe Cruz’s email or voicemail isn’t as well protected as he thinks.

    Maybe someone got a hold of his PNR’s record locator by calling up with his flight info before departure and used his name and flight info to pull up the PNR.

  11. Agree that employee that “leaked” the information should be terminated. I do not want passenger information disseminated to anyone outside a need to know basis. I don’t care if it’s Cruz, AOC, or even Pelosi. That foolish employee jeopardized the safety of every passenger on board that flight.
    BTW. When will folks learn that the primary objective of politicians is not to mold the world in your image but to get themselves elected/re-elected? Don’t believe it? How many one term politicians that voluntarily left politics can you recall? Limousine liberals in The Peoples Republic of Austin are some of the worst.

  12. They ought to fire anyone who was involved in this. Likewise, sites like this that fuel a stupid feeding frenzy ought to be sued and shut down.

  13. So the Lord Trump-worshipping Cruz fans want to cancel this blog and see it sued just because the blogger dared to cover a topic that covers the travel of a political figure beloved of the Lord Trump-worshippers? It seems so.

  14. I just want to confirm. If the “left” leak stuff it is for the greater good, if the “right” leak stuff it is a conspiracy theory?

    But at the end of the day, all politicians should be exposed- not just the ones you think are “not on your side” because no one is on your side unless you donated millions to their campaigns. They did it against the Trump admin, but I don’t think the media will scrutinize the Biden admin.

  15. Guess I jumped the gun on thinking Gary’s feigned personal traumatization over this latest CNN conservative “outrage” story he’s dutifully regurgitating had reached it’s peak. But to be fair, he’s just following CNN’s lead. We’ll just have to be patient and wait until they tell him to be outraged about something else some evil conservative has done and which he can manage to, however absurdly, relate to “travel”. Shouldn’t be long… Until then, keep that Cruz outrage going! (Let’s impeach him!) lol

  16. But @jeff says:
    February 20, 2021 at 1:14 pm
    I just want to confirm. If the “left” leak stuff it is for the greater good, if the “right” leak stuff it is a conspiracy theory?

    But at the end of the day, all politicians should be exposed- not just the ones you think are “not on your side” because no one is on your side unless you donated millions to their campaigns. They did it against the Trump admin, but I don’t think the media will scrutinize the Biden admin.

    You mean they way the press is going after my Democratic Governor Cuomo in NY?

  17. It is never OK to expose customers’ or employees’ personal information. Unfortunately far too many people across the political spectrum have been brainwashed into believing in winning by any means necessary. I blame our “news” sources, which profit by literally driving their readers and viewers crazy.

    The only cure is to stop reading and watching the news, most of which is heavily slanted through story selection if nothing else. And above all don’t participate on social media, which is toxic to mental health. I claim that the withdrawal cure is NOT worse than the disease. Try it and you’ll see. It’s surprising how calm life becomes without external sources of perpetual agitation.

  18. Although it can be easy nowdays to figure out where your politician is going I don’t believe leaking PNR data to the public is a good thing. No matter how much you dislike the man just vote him out. I also think Sara Nelson is having a power trip…

  19. @One Trippe – how exactly was “everyone in danger” on Cruz’ flight, due to this reveal of (already public) information? Juuuuuust a bit sensational.

    Oh, and bless your little heart.

  20. It is never OK to expose customer’s personal information. Period. Doesn’t matter if the person is a Rabid Right winger or a Looney Left winger.

  21. Sara Nelson completely in the wrong here this is a federal privacy violation no matter how big of an asshole you think Cruz is.
    This employee should be fired

  22. Just to be clear, the leak we’re all talking about is the leak of what his original itinerary was, as well as the date and time he [allegedly] changed to an earlier return flight?

    That’s NOT public information, and, no, everyone can’t just call
    up reservations and get that info.

    How anyone thinks this leak is acceptable is beyond me.

    P.S. AOC didn’t raise $2M. She tweeted an ActBlue link.

  23. There are no access logs in PNRs. Change log in PNR “history, yes. But access log, no. Not for United or any airline. This is a longstanding failure of CRSs to implement data protection measures that are the norm in other industries, and makes it impossible for airlines to comply with data protection laws in countries that have them (unlike the US, which has no data protection law applicable to PNR data). More from my blog: https://hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/002593.html

  24. ua-nyc. You just don’t know how little you just don’t know.

    And the quote is, “Bless your heart.”

  25. The PNR includes eticket info. The eticket receipt — accessible with the record locator and passenger name — may indicate ticket exchanges and/or the eticket could have been out of sync at times with a booked flight when a flight change is made.

    Cruz is an awful liar in every sense of being an awful liar when it comes to his Cancun escape from Texas.

  26. @Lord Trump-worshipping Blake,

    AOC has been raising money, via ActBlue, to assist Texas.

    It was AOC’s tweeting about raising money via ActBlue for Texas that got some former Texan in my family to give ActBlue more money and then asked others — including some Biden-opposing critics of Obama and the Clintons — to do so too via the AOC distributed link.

  27. @GUWonder

    ActBlue is an American nonprofit technology organization established in June 2004 that enables left-leaning nonprofits, Democratic candidates, and progressive groups to raise money from individual donors on the Internet

  28. Maybe VFTW should do a story on how AOC gets most of her work-paid travel points with Amtrak Rewards while Cruz and most DC politicos seems to get theirs with airline programs.

    Any articles on Biden’s Amtrak Rewards history?

  29. Lord Trump-worshipping Blake,

    AOC has been raising lots of money via ActBlue for Texas relief. Non-profits favored by AOC are getting money for Texas relief due to AOC’s efforts and the relief is being provided on the ground in Texas with meal assistance and more.

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