Possible security problems in boarding pass barcodes

Boarding pass barcodes have the information used to decide the security checks a passenger may get.

A number of reports, including the BBC and the Daily Mail,  have highlighted security problems in boarding pass barcodes. They can be read by readily available barcode readers and reveal the information used to determine which security checks a passenger may get.

Theoretically it means a passenger could work out if they had been picked for pre-boarding checks or not and redo the boarding pass barcode.

It could undermine the US’s TSA Pre✓ system which randomly decides which frequent fliers can skip part of the pre-boarding security process

TSA Pre✓ allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs to receive expedited screening benefits during domestic travel. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.

Flaws in boarding pass systems and procedures worldwide have been known for years. It is only now that the problems are being highlighted as they expose flaws in the TSA Pre✓ system.

There are two ways to become eligible for the TSA Pre✓system.

Passengers can pay $100 (£62) to the US customs agency which then performs a background check. If the passenger is approved it gives him or her the right to use all of the US airlines’ TSA Pre✓systems for five years.

Read about USA TSA Expedited Screening.