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Boarding Pass Puzzle
November 18, 2010 2:12 PM   Subscribe

What are the numbers that the TSA agents hand write on boarding passes during the ID check at the airport?

I can't figure out this scribbled code and my google fu is letting me down.
posted by meindee to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Secondary Security Screening Selection?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2010


Nah. They're definitely numbers.
posted by meindee at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2010


I would have said they're the initials of the ID / pass checker - that's what it's always looked like to me. Could it be their employee number, maybe?
posted by alynnk at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always assumed they are an arbitrary mark to make sure that no one goes through the checkpoint with that boarding pass a second time.
posted by eugenen at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2010


Seconding alynnk and eugenen -- I figured they were the checker's ID number used to keep people from re-using the pass.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2010


I've always assumed they are an arbitrary mark to make sure that no one goes through the checkpoint with that boarding pass a second time.

Definitely not this. I've gone through security, annoyed that there wasn't anything good to eat, gone out to eat at one of the pre-security food places, and re-entered security. Also sometimes because of boredom or just wanting to walk around and kill some time. Sometimes 3 times, I can't lie. Never had any questions, suspicions, etc. about going through security again and again.
posted by raztaj at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is only a guess, but once I was late for my flight, and I cut to the front of the line. The TSA agent at the podium asked me if I got permission from everyone in line to cut. [I then asked the entire line in my best loudspeaker voice, "I'm late for my flight, who has a problem with me cutting to the front of the line?". AFter no one objected, I informed the TSA podium agent I asked everyone's permission.

He then wrote four letter C's. On my boarding pass. He walked me to the front of the magnetometer where my carry on, person, sweater, shoes were all searched meticulously by hand, and I was held up for 15 minutes. I was last one to board the flight.


My best guess is that the four C's mean "Check the hell out of this passanger and try to make him miss his flight. That'll teach him"
posted by yoyoceramic at 3:22 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I looked last time I flew and it looked like it was just the time in military format. But maybe it was just a coincidence.
posted by WickedPissah at 3:49 PM on November 18, 2010


I was wondering about this on my last flight; Delta is really pushing the smartphone boarding pass, and I don't think TSA agents are going to scribble this hieroglyph on my phone.
posted by catlet at 7:08 PM on November 18, 2010


I don't think TSA agents are going to scribble this hieroglyph on my phone.

No, they don't. They just scrutinize your ID while you scan the barcode into the little scanner.

I don't know what the scribbles mean either. After security if you go to the gate agent and ask to change your seat, for example, they print you a new boarding pass and take your old one, so you'd have no scribble.
posted by cabingirl at 7:36 PM on November 18, 2010


I've always assumed they are an arbitrary mark to make sure that no one goes through the checkpoint with that boarding pass a second time.

You can go through security checkpoints as often as you'd like (or can tolerate) with the same boarding pass. They're just going to check your ID again.
posted by cmonkey at 9:06 PM on November 18, 2010


In San Diego, it's the initials of the screening agent. At least that's what the TSA agent told me when I asked a few months ago.
posted by 26.2 at 12:25 AM on November 19, 2010


Whatever it is, what good is it? That one agent scribbles on the pass, I shove it in my pocket, and no one ever looks at it again. I scan it at the gate as I get on the plane, but unless every gate agent has an encyclopedic memory of every scribble used by every TSA person, they're not verifying anything about it.
posted by chazlarson at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2010


I fly 6-12 times a month and have seen hundreds of these hen scratchings. I'm sure it's just part of the security theatre (farce). Makes these clowns feel ever-so-official, woooooo.
posted by charris5005 at 11:34 AM on November 19, 2010


So, this mystery remains unsolved for the time being...

The numbers that I had scribbled on my boarding pass in Indianapolis weren't military time and they were markedly different from those scribbled on my companion's boarding pass.

From what I could tell, they had nothing to do with my ID either.

I'll check back on this thread occasionally to see if anyone has a better idea than charris5005's theory.

Thanks for throwing your ideas into the mix. Safe flying!
posted by meindee at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2010


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