What a terrorist’s airline ticket looks like


What a terrorist’s airline ticket looks like

I’ve done a lot of talking about the “SSSS” on the boarding pass that denotes a traveler as a security threat, but I’ve never posted an image.

Every airline has a different layout, but here is a sample of one of my tickets, from Alaska Airlines:

TSA ticket
(Click to enlarge)

Note the “SSSS” in two places.

The TSA stamp is how the ticket-taker at the gate knows that you’ve been “properly screened” and that you’re “cleared to board.” Consistent with the TSA having no consistency and being a completely confused, disorganized mess who makes everything up as they go, the TSA stamp is different at every airport. And often there is no stamp – just scratched initials and a round hole punch.

This is what “security theater” looks like: The only thing the prevents the otherwise safe airways from being populated with misdemeanor terrorists with 10-year-old property crimes and boarding with switchblade combs are scratched initials that could be accomplished by your 5-year-old nephew, and a hole punch purchased at Staples for $4.

Feel safer? I would, except I’m the one they’re trying to protect you from and I think I’m pretty cool, so not really.

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  1. Ian

    Have you tried an electronic boarding pass (like the ones that can be loaded into Passbook on an iPhone)? They probably don’t include the visual “SSSS”, which could be an entertaining way to mess with TSA agents who don’t pay enough attention when scanning the barcode.

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