back to article Mobile phones will 'cut off' Al Qaeda

Michael Chertoff, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, reckons that putting boarding passes onto mobile phones will stop terrorists boarding planes with forged documents, and make the skies a safer place for all. Boarding passes are easily forged, as demonstrated by The Atlantic magazine last month, But the electronic …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Pete mcQuail

    Oh Dear

    the first cuckoo of spring and its not even Christmas yet.

  2. Hollerith

    no mobile

    You don't have to be a luddite to decide not to carry a phone. I am on the way to totally deaf. I decided against a phone because I don't like texting. I did have a BlackBerry from an employer, and that was really great, but I can't afford one personally. So the solution for me is, apparently, to hitch across country.

  3. Mike

    Oh dear lord

    Why not just give every one a pair of Wings, and let them flap away,,,

    That would solve every problem.

  4. Dave Ashton


    Offload airline security to the telcos. I imagine literally nothing could ever go wrong with this. God bless the DHA.

  5. Jeroen Braamhaar

    Call me cynical but ...


    All passengers for the TerrorPork Express, please board now! Bring your unproven, propietary technology, your pricavy-invasive methods and your unrealistic proposals ... all aboard, all aboard ... hey wait, how come there's more people on the train than booked ?

  6. Darren B

    Won't somebody think of the children!

    My 2 year old does not have or need a mobile phone but apparently needs a seat so will therefore need a boarding pass.

    Great holiday that will be, "now sweetie, Mummy and Daddy are off to florida to see Buzz Lightyear but you will have to stay with Nanny and Grandad as mean old Uncle Sam says you are a terrorist."

  7. Anton Ivanov

    Should we laugh or should we cry

    What a clinically insane misapplication of technology. Any phone which can check-in online and retain the boarding pass should be able to load an application that can send the signed version of that boarding pass over bluetooth once it has been queried by the departure gate.

  8. Andy Barber
    Thumb Down

    Mobile phone's for babies...

    ... it's the way to go!

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hands in head

    Are mobile phones much harder to swap in departures than boarding passes then? And oh look my battery has died, or oops I deleted that text, sorry.

    Can we have a DOF icon (Department of F**kwits)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    problem is

    I have a mobile (I work for a mobi operator and contractually I have a mobile phone) but it stays switched off, sitting on my desk. Since they cause brain tumours and other forms of cancer I foresee a time when people will start suing the USA because they got cancer flying in/to/from the USA.

    The other problem (applicible to business users only), is you get your PA to book the flights, maybe a group booking. She normally then just offloads it to an agency. Now that seems to be a data protection breach in the making if the agency gets my ex-directory number. Others might get hacked off when said agency "loses" the data to spammers.

    What happens when I make a booking and get my mobile stolen (obviously not me specifically but you get the jist), said perp. can now get a free flight from London to Scotland or whereever.

    All in all, typical Paris Hilton - all show for the media but nothing practical as an outcome.

  12. Andy Worth


    However, this doesn't do anything to combat the terrorists who just buy a ticket, let alone those with proper forged identities.

    But hey, at least the last thing that goes through your mind as a terrorist bomb blows you to pieces is that they must have paid for a ticket.....

  13. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's a Fracking Phone!

    I use a Nokia 3330. It's a phone that makes and receives phone calls and sends and receives text messages. It does not have a camera (I have a much better camera than any phone). It does not store and play music (I have an iPod nano, it is much smaller than the phone). It will not surf the net (a chap nees a break now and again, even from the temptation).

  14. Anonymous Coward

    What's the point?

    I haven't even seen a boarding pass for years. Every time I've boarded a plane lately - including intercontinental flights - I've just shown my passport or drivers license (depends on destination) at the check-in and at the gate. No need for anything more.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I want to know is

    How did the terrorists get into government?

  16. Luke

    Top tip

    Terrorists - Why risk getting caught with forged tickets? You are about to kill yourself anyway, no need to save, buy a real ticket! In fact, go first class and use the sky phone, give yourself a treat.

    Oh, what's that? You already do? Oh...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC 14:44

    Terrorists got into government because of gerrymandering, granny farming and dead people voted for them.

  18. Steve Evans


    and completely over the top "solution".

    Dependant on some many things, mobile phones supporting the technology for one.

    They would be far better off just implementing their current system a little better. Having the gate and check-in systems linked for a start!

  19. kain preacher Silver badge

    Dont worry

    I'm sure Jacqui will try some thing like this.

    Oh to the person that said sue the USA

    wont happen. In order to sue the federal government the government must give you permission

  20. Chris C

    Mobile phones? Are they serious?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't they still tell you that you're legally obligated to TURN OFF your mobile phone while on the plane? Even if this is only used at the boarding gate, before getting on the plane, it sounds to me like it'll encourage more people to leave their phones turned on (or forget to turn them off). And then you have the issue of incompatible phones, cracked screens that a barcode reader won't be able to read, people who don't have a mobile phone, etc.

    I swear, the government (and by extension, it seems, the aviation industry) is doing everything in its power to make sure people don't use airplanes anymore. Sure, it may be great for the environment, but not too good for vacations or business.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @AC 16:38

    "Terrorists got into government because of gerrymandering, granny farming and dead people voted for them."

    Don't worry, they've been voted out of office already. I wonder if the new overlor^W president will step back on all these idiotic measures.

  22. Rich
    Thumb Down


    I reckon the Al have got dozens of people training as sky marshals (or working as cops if that's the prerequisite). It's the easiest way to guarantee you're allowed on to an aircraft with a gun (and probably allowed into the cockpit to "check security").

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where Do I Sign Up to Join the Luddite Party?

    Once the UK has a national mobile phone register I will opt out, I won't have one.

  24. Ian Tunnacliffe

    Oh Dear Oh Dear

    The usual half-informed stuff here....

    LH - If you have been getting on aeroplanes without boarding passes then you are more or less unique. They have not gone away. In many cases they look different to the way they used to. Lots of them are printed at home on A4 or Letter paper, complete with bar code. Others are printed from a kiosk using thermal paper. So, you may not have had your old familiar ATB2 mag striped boarding pass for a while - depending in which airline you use - but you most certainly have a boarding pass.

    As to the main thrust of the piece, mobile phone boarding passes are not being introduced as a security measure. The airlines have wanted them for a long time because they expect them to increase the use of self check-in, which costs pennies, in place of check in at an airport desk, which costs dollars (substitue pounds, euros, zlotys or dongs at your preference). The security issue is that various authorities, including the TSA, have not been prepared to accept them until they could be at least as secure as printed boarding passes. Which is not all that secure, but as part of a managed process including searches and profiling and all the other "security" measures is deemed to be an acceptable risk.

    And, to all the other Chicken Lickens, no airline that I have ever talked to has any intention to go for exclusively mobile phone boarding passes. All the Luddites, children, users of non-standard devices and all the rest will still have the option of old-fashioned paper.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And what if the terrorist just buys a sea on the plane instead of trying to sneak on? If they've invested enough to mount an attack like this, why risk the operation for a few hundred dollars? The perpetrators are unlikely to be known terrorists, more likely volunteers with no criminal record whatsoever.

    This is a crap solution to a problem that doesn't really exist, except in the minds of those selling the solution.

  26. Ian Tunnacliffe
    Thumb Up

    Gate and Check In

    Oh and another thing. Gate and Check In Systems are the same system in the vast majority of cases. Where there is a case for better integration is between the airline Departure Control Systems which include check-in boarding, baggage and a bunch of other stuff, and the security screening systems used by TSA, Immigration authorities etc. To some extent this does happen but there are some real issues of technological compatibility (which are largely soluble) and data protection/privacy which on the whole are less tractable, as regular Reg readers will be well aware.

  27. sath


    Stupid people coming up with stupid solutions to problems that get worse the more you pick at it with creams and/or salves, magical healing crystals, manly bits of praying mantis etc. Basically the more random 'security' measures that they come up, the worse they make the whole problem hmmm.

  28. Steven Jones

    Not well explained

    As others have pointed out, if this was somebody forging a copy of somebody else's boarding pass then the head count would pick it up. If people go back to the original Atlantic Magazine article they will find the exposee is how to bypass the US government's no-fly scheme by creating a second boarding pass matching other identification (like a driver's license or passport). The airlines don't check the "no fly" list immediately before you get on the 'plane - they only check the other ID you have.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019