Bureau of Civil Aviation Security flags fake boarding pass risk
Soon, any boarding pass printed or downloaded more than once will have “duplicate” mentioned on it — a step aviation security authorities said was essential to avoid misuse of such passes. Bar code scanners used at the airports to check boarding passes will also be upgraded to be able to catch any modifications made in the travel document to prevent forgery, officials aware of the development, said.
The measures have been taken by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) in the wake of airlines and airport operators promoting self check-ins and use of e-boarding passes for passengers, after the Covid-19 lockdown, in order to ensure contactless travel.
In one of its recent circulars, BCAS has warned airlines, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and airport operators about the possibilities of boarding pass forgery. The bureau has directed agencies concerned to come up with solutions and establish a “fail-proof passenger movement system”.
In its circular, accessed by Hindustan Times, BCAS has said, “Passengers with ill intentions may falsify their bar coded boarding passes by changing the flight number or class of service. They may also print two copies of the bar coded boarding pass and pass one to a friend or even create a counterfeit bar coded boarding pass”.
It further said that technical solutions shall be incorporated in the process by concerned aircraft operators.
A senior CISF officer from the Delhi airport said barcode scanners currently used are basic ones. “Because of e-boarding passes the risk of forgery is higher now. BCAS has suggested upgrade of scanners to the ones that will also catch any modifications and will be able to identify if the print out or the e-copy of boarding pass has been doctored. It has also asked airlines to write ‘duplicate’ on any boarding pass that is printed more than once . This will help us identify people travelling on duplicate boarding passes and we can re-verify their credentials to make sure the traveller is genuine,” the officer said, wishing not to be named.
While Air India said it will comply with all the protocols and norms specified by BCAS, IndiGo said all their boarding passes are in synchronization with the airline’s Reservation and Passenger Servicing System.
“These boarding passes have International Air Transport Association recommended barcode. All such boarding passes are reconciled electronically against Passenger Servicing System. This process takes care of potential risk that it may cause due to forged barcode, forged boarding pass or due to multiple copies of boarding passes,” an airline spokesperson said.
IndiGo, however, said it is in process of upgrading their system to print “duplicate” on the boarding passes.
BCAS, in its circular, has also said that the airport operator shall work in coordination with aircraft operators and CISF/police so that a synchronized system is established for movement of passengers right from the entry gate to kiosks generating boarding passes to security checkpoints and to the boarding gate or ladder point.
Delhi International Airport Ltd (Dial), that operates Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, did not respond to requests for a comment on the issue.
Former CISF director general, Arvind Ranjan said as banks continuously keep improving their software for enhanced security, a similar system can be introduced. “So every time a passenger prints the boarding pass, the information is shared with agencies concerned. The airlines and airport operators will need to upgrade their system and engage experts to build devices that are fail proof,” Ranjan said.