Loophole in Airport security!
Slate has a very interesting article on Airport security and how there is this huge loophole that would make the "No-Fly" list, well, kinda useless against stopping suspected terrorists of boarding US planes. Here is how they use the "NO-FLY" list now: 1) Right before you go through security, a security guard checks your boarding pass against your government-issued ID, making sure the names match. This check does not include a scan of the barcode, in part because the same security checkpoints process passengers for multiple airlines with different computer systems. Occasionally a second security guard at the metal detector will double-check the boarding pass, but again, not by scanning it. 2) Once you get to your boarding gate, the barcode on the printed pass is finally scanned just before you enter the Jetway. However, as the boarding agents remind you over and over, you no longer need to show your ID at the gate. (The TSA estimates 80 percent of U.S. airports have done away with ID checks at the boarding gate.) I've noticed that many passengers still have their driver's licenses or passports in hand as they approach, remembering post-9/11 enhanced security. But the agents cheerily tell them to put their IDs away—they're no longer necessary. Here is the flaw if you didn't catch it: Do you see the big flaw? At no point do you have to prove that the person in whose name the ticket was bought is the same person standing at the airport. At stop 1), the name on a home-printed boarding pass is checked against an ID, but not against the name stored in the airline's computer. At stop 2), the name on the printed pass is checked against the name in the computer, but not against an ID. Now here is how the potential terrorist could use this to his/her advantage: So all a terrorist needs to breeze through this loophole are two different boarding passes, both printed at home, that are identical except for the name. Check out the mock-up I made on Microsoft Publisher in about 10 minutes, using a real boarding pass I was issued last month. On the first one, you see my real name. On the second, the name has been replaced by that of Mr. Serious Threat, who we will pretend is on the No-Fly List. Say Mr. Threat and his nefarious associates buy a ticket in someone else's name (perhaps by stealing a credit card number—something criminals do without immediate detection all the time). In this case, the name of the card-theft victim (me) will be printed on the boarding pass. Mr. Threat can be pretty sure a common name like mine won't trigger the No-Fly List as his would. Then he prints out the two boarding passes: the original in my name and an altered duplicate in his name. At the first security checkpoint (the one where no scan takes place), he can breeze through using any name he wishes—even his own—just so long as his photo ID matches the altered boarding pass. Unless the security guard has the entire No-Fly List memorized, she isn't going to stop Mr. Threat. On the way to his gate he does the old switcheroo, and produces the pass with my name, which will match the computer record. Child's play. His real identity has never set off the computer's alarm bells. Now, the reason i am posting this, is because i get harassed by airport security every single time i've arrived/departed at a US airport ever since 9/11. And i am ok with that. The head of the Hijackers came from Egypt, arabic names sound alike, and at the end of the day its US airports, so the US could do whatever the hell it wants to keep its flights safe. I understand that and i don't mind it cause i know i have done nothing wrong. But if i have to go through all that and some freakin terrorist manages to sashay his ass past security because of this stupid loophole, well, then excuse me if i am a lil pissed off that my time is getting wasted by procedures that aim to make you feel safe instead of actually protecting you. I agree with the Author of the piece that the No-Fly list is kinda stupid and pointless, but it is there and it gets used. Since this is the case, make sure that the people who are using it use it correctly. I don't know how you would do it, but talk to someone in the FAA, or your airport's managment or even write your congressmen or senator or something. But have them fix the system and protect you, before it's too late again.