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Monday, September 01, 2008

free priority boarding

This post is only for fun and meant to point out how poor security is and how easy it is to change your boarding card. Changing your boarding card may result in you not being able to board and prosecuted.
I fly a fair bit with Ryanair. I was reading their in-flight Mag on my recent flight with them to see that there is a glaring mistake in their "aren't we a great airline company" page:
From Ryanair Mag
That bit in the middle:
Passengers who avail of our FREE online check-in service enjoy the double benefit of skipping queues at both check-in and boarding, as Check'N'Go passengers automatically receive priority boarding onto their flight.
Besides that mistake and Ryanair stealing €5 from you each way if you want Priority Boarding, I thought what is stopping you editing your own printed off boarding card to give yourself Free Priority Boarding?

It turns out nothing! And I sucessfully managed to skip the queue on my recent trip with a modified Boarding Card. I present to you my:

Guide to Free Priority Boarding in 10 Easy Steps!

1. Book a flight with Ryanair

2. Choose: 0 Bags & Online Check-in And No to being one of the first to board the aircraft:
3. Have a PDF Printer installed on your PC. I use PDF 995, It's Free!

4. Check-in online up to 5 days before your flight and print your boarding card to PDF.

5. Open the PDF in Photoshop (YES! You can do that!)

6. Move the page down a bit to make room for the two new lines:
Priority Boarding Pass

7. Add the text: PRIORITY BOARDING PASS in Arial, 14pt, Bold Italic.

8. Print the Image to PDF, scale it to A4 size.

9. Open the PDF and then print it to your physical printer.

10. Enjoy FREE Priority Boarding :-)


  1. Anonymous1/9/08 22:41

    Ooooh, that's devious, that is. :)

  2. That's totally dishonest.....I love it!

  3. Anonymous2/9/08 08:00

    There are many ways in which forging a document can bring you advantages. It was probably for this reason that our forefathers made it a criminal offence, a decision that no generation has yet reversed.

  4. Anonymous2/9/08 10:46

    Hate to say it, but unfortunately I think Fergus may have a point :(

  5. I agree completely, it's a false document. I'm just highlighting how easy it is to to modify this pre-printed boarding card.

    I do have a problem with them saying in their official magazine you get it for free, then charge you for it.

  6. Anonymous2/9/08 12:24

    Would I be that cheap as to modify my boarding pass just to get comfortable sooner?

    Hell yes!

  7. Anonymous2/9/08 18:05

    "There are many ways in which forging a document can bring you advantages. It was probably for this reason that our forefathers made it a criminal offence, a decision that no generation has yet reversed."

    WHen I recently detected a forged driving licence at DUBLIN PORT , reported it to the port police , and refused the passenger travel , I was told that I acted Wrongly ! And was fired the next day ! All hail the law of our forefathers !

  8. Anonymous2/9/08 18:10

    I love that companies are more and more relying on self-printed documents for verification, without adding any sort of checks and balances to their systems.

    I ran across one of these the other day for a local bar. They do an occasional online mailing where you watch a video and then have a beer quiz afterwards. Score high enough on the quiz, and you get a printable coupon for a free beer. There's numerous holes in this system, but I always play by the rules regardless, in order not to louse up the ongoing free beer. :)

    Anyway, I went through it the other day, and the resulting coupon that it wanted to print for me had the wrong date on it. Seems they had forgotten to update the coupon program for the new date. Examining the screen, I discovered that the coupon was, in fact, generated in HTML and then simply printed using javascript:document.print(). A slight live modification to the HTML (Web Developer Tools is an awesome Firefox plugin), and then printing fixed the date and printed it just fine. But the other security checks they have on there (an IP address and ID number and so on) are all just as easily editable. There's no audit trail, no barcode, no nothing that confirms the legitimacy of the coupon itself.

    More and more this is the case with these online coupons and passes and other confirmation systems. It's only a matter of time before there's a big hole somewhere that gets exploited. Companies really need to learn that any system must have end-to-end authentication. If I print something to be verified, then it must have a method of verification that relies on something not under my own control. You can't trust a printout, as it's easily altered as long as I'm the one printing it. But you can trust your own systems, as long as I didn't have access to them. :)

  9. @Otto That Web Developer Tools plugin could cut out half the steps above!! I'll have to check it out next time I print out a boarding card! :-)

    I knew that once I didn't change the barcode on the pass I was ok. I had an original copy with me incase there was any problems, which there wasn't as you know how rushed they are to get everyone onboard. Altho on that flight something strange happened.

    As I was going up to board, the new flight attendant who was taking the boarding cards was being given out to be his superior who was scanning in the collected boarding cards. She was saying to him that he had to check that the name on the ticket matched the passport, as she was getting an error that this passenger has already boarded.

    On board before take off there was a call out for a Mr Smith (or whatever the name was) to make themselves known. Several times they tried to identify them, but no one confessed to being the named person.

    Did someone print two copies of their pass to get someone a free flight?

  10. Anonymous2/9/08 23:47

    legend, nice one, although i will not be flying with them after their little situation they had the other day when the plane dropped 20,000 feet in 3 seconds, talk about shitting yourself

  11. Anonymous3/9/08 23:07

    nice 1. i always wanted to know if it was possible

  12. Anonymous4/12/08 11:57

    If there is one thing worse than being a crook...its being a cheap crook. How low can you sell yourself well done everybody

  13. You calling me or Ryanair a crook?
    And how am I selling myself?
    Vous appellez-moi ou Ryanair Les escrocs? Comment suis-je vendre moi-même?
    Il est facile de rester anonyme ;-)

  14. Anonymous8/12/08 22:37

    I wouldn't try this in the near future. The Bar code is being upgraded to include the fact that Priority Boarding has been paid for. Once they scan in the Bar Code it will give different indications indicating whether the Passenger purchased Priority Boarding. Even if they miss you as you walk through the gate it show the error when they do the final flight numbers so they will come and off load you !!

  15. Anonymous25/8/09 18:18


    I am flying with Ryanair this weekend and I've printed out my passes only to realize that they look different from the ones you've posted... Do you have any idea what priority looking boarding passes look like now? I dunno how to attach a picture to this thread, don't supposed it's possible...

  16. Anonymous31/5/10 13:14

    Boarding passes do not look the same as depicted. Will you update your process?

  17. The New Ryanair Boarding Cards have changed. I'm afraid I don't have any update on what they look like. You are going to have to pay for priority boarding yourself or guess!

  18. Anonymous1/5/12 12:13

    I tried this and got Caught on Monday at Karlsruhe Baden ! Thank you very much ! I had to repay for EVERYTHING

  19. Ha! Your own fault I guess for taking the advice of a 3.5 year old blog post from the Internet! :-)

  20. Anonymous16/7/12 08:29

    it depends on the airport, i think.

    often in small airports they scan the pass only once, when you enter the gate. not in the actual queue to enter the plane, where they're usually just trying to herd people onwards. here they only check the boarding passes with a quick glance.

    if this is the case in your airport, the best procedure is probably to print two versions of the pass with only one of them altered. present the original for scanning at the gate-entry and the modified one later in the actual queue.
    remember to partly tear your false document just like the desk official did with the real one.

    this eliminates the possibility of them getting you by crosschecking the printed information with the barcode. only way they could catch you is by actually counting the number of people entering through the priority queue. I've never seen them do that.

    can't hurt to have an additional modified pass in your pocket, ready to use IF the controls are satisfactorily lax :)

    i have not done this yet though, too scared. How did you get caught, dear anonymous?

  21. Anonymous16/7/12 08:38

    maybe they scan the passes later after you already went through, since the part they rip off and keep also has a barcode on it.