Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Boarding gate ID checks, who needs them?

Predicating any "security" on possession of documents is a tricky business to begin with, but using a boarding pass as a key element in airline security, particularly when many airlines allow passengers to print them at home, is ludicrous. Nonetheless this appears to be exactly what the US TSA is permitting. The reasoning appears to be that because a boarding pass has been compared to a government issued ID at the security checkpoint that therefore IDs need not be checked at boarding. This proivides a trivial circumvention of the no-fly list.

One exquisite consequence of this is that would-be-terrorists (who aren't permitted to purchase airline tickets in their own names) are saved the tedium of forging government IDs, they need merely buy a ticket in someone else's name (e.g. with a stolen credit card, the ticket being in the name of the card-holder) and then print a boarding pass which matches their real government-issued ID. "Forging" a boarding pass, particularly when airlines intend them to be printed at home and therefore supply a template, is so much easier than forging a passport.