Frontier Airlines’ decision to comb through Kyle Clark’s travel records following an exchange about a recent publicity stunt, raised two questions around our newsroom.

What kind of information does an airline collect about you as a passenger? And who can access it?

For answers, we reviewed the privacy policies of Frontier, United and Southwest. Here’s what we found:

1) You agree to a range of data collection by clicking agree to their terms of service when you buy a ticket. These long, multipage privacy disclosures include everything from how they share your information with other companies to following what you say about them on social media.

2) In addition to your basic travel information and history, Frontier’s privacy policy states it keeps your “email submissions and their content” so they can evaluate their “customer-relations and assistance programs.”

3) And Frontier says it shares your travel information with other companies, including other airlines, as well as “certain third parties for direct marketing purposes.”

4) United and Southwest also say they can share your information with other companies that might want to sell you something.
“We may disclose information we collect from you to our affiliates or subsidiaries,” according to United’s privacy policy. “Our affiliates and subsidiaries may use your information for various purposes, including marketing their products and services to you.”

5) All the airlines 9NEWS reviewed state in their privacy policies that they don’t sell your information to third parties, they share it with them. And they don’t collect and share information on children under the age of 13.

6) They aren’t just giving out your information. All three airlines collect information about you from other companies.
Here’s what United’s policy says: “We may also obtain information about you from our marketing partners, advertisers and other third parties.”

7) Southwest’s privacy policy says some of the things it learns about you from other companies are “your travel preferences and activity, household income range, or postal code.”

8) And all the information Southwest learns collects “such as how you interact with our service, may be combined with your personal information.”

9) Southwest also warns fliers that if they behave inappropriately, the airline may share that personal information with law enforcement.
It also might share information about you “if we believe your actions are inconsistent with our user agreements or policies, or to protect the rights, property, life, health, security and safety of us or any third party” or “any other purpose, with your consent or as permitted or required by applicable law.”

10) If you tag an airline in a photo on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, the airline might look at that too. “In addition, we may receive information about you if other users of a third party website give us access to their profiles and you are one of their ‘connections,’ or information about you is otherwise accessible through your ‘connections’ web pages, profile pages, or similar pages on a social networking or other third party website or interactive service,” according to Southwest’s privacy policy.


If you want one of the airlines to stop sharing your information with third parties, here’s what to do:

Frontier: Call 800-265-5505 and tell Frontier you don’t want them disclosing your information to third parties for “direct marketing purposes.” Its privacy policy says you can call anytime.

United: MileagePlus can call or change their profiles online to stop promotional emails.

Southwest: The airline’s privacy policy includes a link to opt out of its “marketing platform’s persistent cookies,” but it was broken when we clicked on it. If you want to contact the airline directly, click here.

In general, you can also opt out of some targeted advertising by following instructions from the Network Advertising Initiative and/or the Digital Advertising Alliance.