Air Canada Proved WestJet Was Hacking Them (By Going Through WestJet's Trash)
In 2003, upstart Canadian airline WestJet obtained login credentials from a former Air Canada employee named Jeffrey Lafond, giving them access to an internal Air Canada website, which contained flight loads and other valuable information. And boy did they use it. Lafond's login was used 243,630 times in less than a year, a number rivaled only by Ted Cruz's Pornhub account. It was just the start of a very weird, very Canadian air travel rivalry.
In 2004, Air Canada sued WestJet, alleging corporate espionage. But how could they prove that? Quite easily, as it turns out, because Air Canada had paid private detectives to repeatedly steal the garbage of WestJet co-founder Mark Hill. (There are apparently two of them in Canada.) Hill even photographed one group of detectives who screeched up to his home in Victoria, emptied his trash cans into their pickup truck, and peeled out again, ignoring his shouts of "Do you work for Air Canada?" That might seem like a weird question, given that the alternative was a roving gang of garbage perverts, but this was one of few situations in which the latter would actually be preferable.
The stolen trash included shredded documents, which the investigators painstakingly pieced back together to reveal Air Canada's secret flight load data. They got another break when Hill took an Air Canada flight to Florida. The airline moved his girlfriend to a different seat, and sat a private eye in fake glasses and a goatee next to him instead so he could sneak peeks at confidential information on Hill's computer. Meanwhile, Hill had started loading his trash cans with fake shredded documents which, when pieced together, revealed his plans to "take digital photos of the two morons digging thru my garbage looking for propriety [sic] WestJet information."
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesUnfortunately, lawyers stepped in before this could culminate in the Wile E. Coyote “runway painted on a wall” finale this was obviously leading to.