Skift Take

A list of the airline’s top clients showed up on Twitter Friday, with Apple taking the top spot. This is bad news for United — especially if Apple is out shopping for a new preferred airline today.

It’s no secret that Apple is the top account of United Airlines. At least, not anymore: United messed up by disclosing a list of its top corporate clients, and a photo of the list has since made its way around Twitter.

The photo reveals that Apple spends $150 million with United every year, and buys 50 business class seats daily on the San Francisco-to-Shanghai, That route alone delivers $35 million in revenue a year to United from Apple.

The photo also lists other big companies as frequent flyers, including Google and Facebook. Meanwhile, small words at the bottom of the list read, “This is confidential information. Please do not share outside of United.” Many Twitter users were surprised that United was so careless with client information, and others speculated about Apple’s possible response.

According to a published report, United posted the information in a United employee-only area at San Francisco Airport as a way to get employees to give special care to valued corporate accounts.

It is unclear who took the photo of the sign, but it was posted to Twitter by LAFlyer, an airline blogger.

Corporate clients are usually highly guarded in the service business, and Apple especially is known for not releasing internal information. So how did this happen? According to a statement that United sent to its corporate accounts, the information was provided to United employees as part of a pilot project on the importance of corporate relationships. The information “was not intended to be shared publicly.”

United added that it was working to address the concerns of the clients named, and seemed to own up to its error. “The material has been taken down, and moving forward we will review and further restrict sharing of internal customer information to a strictly need-to-know audience,” the statement read.

So far, Apple has not responded to the leak, but the tech giant’s potential reaction has been a popular topic for some Twitter users.

“Pretty sure Apple won’t be United’s biggest account for long after Apple sees this. I’ve seen Apple fire suppliers for much smaller disclosures,” tweeted technology and finance blogger Jay Goldberg on Friday.

“They actually printed this customer data out and put it on a banner? That’s insane,” tweeted research analyst Michael Hodapp

“You know, I really hope Apple execs will decide to terminate the relationship with United, after putting such details out in public!” tweeted Robert Varga.



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Tags: apple, united airlines

Photo credit: United slipped up and let it slip that Apple is its top corporate client. United / United Airlines

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