03 November, 2006

Airport insecurity part, er, whatever the next one is…

For a more detailed story please see link

As a video ‘pro’ one thing I learned early on was that a graphic was a graphic, as long as it wasn’t on too unique of a paper - if we wanted an extra back stage pass or two it was simple enough to scan and make our own and laminate as required, since then any paper or even lamented cred is easily scanned and duplicated

Since 1999 starting with Alaska Airlines you have been able to ‘check in’ to your flight from home and print your boarding pass – this and a picture ID that matches the name on the boarding pass will (as long as you don’t have that SSSS on the bottom of your pass) get you through security into the ‘sanitized’ zone as it is referred to these days.

The problem is, it’s a computer graphic file, anyone who has ever used Photoshop or any other image editing/creation tool can immediately see that it is not difficult to alter the image, couple that with the realization that there is no cross checking of boarding passes at the initial security checkpoint with any of the flight manifests, let alone even a simple body count – so, what happens when someone points out how insecure it is?

Well, as Bruce Schneier wrote about back in 03 and has been written and spoken about several time since then to no response, one could likely infer that this is ‘not an issue’

So, if you are a security concerned citizen and flyer and want to illuminate this gaping flaw, what happens if you gin up a quickie bogus boarding pass generator on the web?

Well Christopher Soghoian did just that last week - and guess what?

You get your door busted down and your computers and personal belongings confiscated, does not matter that even o’l Chuck Schumer point out this particular vulnerability.

The person who commented about the emperor’s lack of clothing is the one explaining – and fighting for their freedom and property, this is flat out wrong!

- what about the people responsible for the existing policy? Um, nothing yet, and I don’t recommend holding your breath

And this particular idiocy can not even be credited to the current administration!

The Airlines created the policy!


To keep folks from re-selling non refundable tickets

Back in 1996!

That’s right folks, the most significant security barrier in air travel today was not implemented to provide better security, is not designed to protect you - or even your aircraft, it is designed to allow the carriers to renege on already paid for seats.

So, in little doses

You present a boarding pass and photo ID that match – you are into the ‘Sterile Zone’

The boarding pass you present at the gate (usually without any photo ID) does not have to match the one you presented at the insecurity check point, it just has to match the flight manifest – and there is no cross check!

And I’m supposed to kowtow to Homeland Security? How about when they show some?

Since September 11th 2001 I’ve lost more personal electronics and tools in checked luggage on domestic flights than 20 + years prior

Anyone else see anything wrong?




  1. I'm just glad that I don't have to fly for my job. If I had to endure frequently what we went through when we went to Michigan, I'd be in jail for losing my temper and screaming at the (in)security employees.

    We had one who had a sense of humour. I was wearing a necklace that consisted of big chunks of turquoise. The person who was insisting that I remove my cheap imitation Crocs told me she needed to inspect my necklace, as well. Whe I glared at her in honest indignation, she said the old "Just kidding, har har."

  2. Anonymous11:03

    You gotta expect the airlines to fleece people in any way possible.