Whose error is it anyway (or How Airport security could be better)?

Generally, I find Indian Airport Security to be top-notch, and the multiple levels of checks and balances that are there by the time you get to the flight ensure a much higher level of security than what I find in International Airports.

That said, when my mother regaled me with her experience at Chennai Airport with Jet Airways, I was left quite shocked at the places where it can breakdown.

The Background

My mother had a flight from Chennai to Mumbai on 29th July with Jet Airways. As a platinum member, she elected to upgrade her seat from Economy to Premiere class. She got seat 1D allocated to her.

As a frequent traveller, she barely paid any attention to the boarding pass, and made her way through security checks and all the way to the boarding gate. And she whizzed through them like normal.

The Hiccup

When she boarded the flight, she found someone else sitting at 1D. When she cross-verified the boarding pass of the passenger, they also had a Boarding Pass for seat 1D.

The Quirk

At this point, she finally looked at her boarding pass, and boy was she in for a shock! The boarding pass she was given was with someone else’s name. She had gotten through security and the boarding gate, onto the aircraft, with someone else’s boarding pass!

And the entire air crew kept asking the ground staff to ask whether she had boarded, while she was standing right in front of them!

The Points of Failure

  • She should never have been issued a boarding pass, with someone else’s name on it. Either the upgrade should not have been possible, or she should have been assigned the correct boarding pass. At the end of the day though, this is a manual oversight and it is very hard to prevent it from happening!
  • Security Check doesn’t check personal IDs, as that is usually checked at the entrance to the airport. This still makes sense, as you don’t want to duplicate work and slow down the already slow and long security lines further.
  • The boarding gate should not allow someone with the same boarding pass to board, if someone with that boarding pass has already boarded previously. This is the scariest bit, that the boarding gate doesn’t have a unique check to ensure that two people with the same boarding card can’t board.

What’s happened since

Of course, my mother, being the outspoken woman that she is, immediately emailed Jet Airways to bring it to their attention. After multiple emails and phone calls with Jet, Jet has basically claimed that their systems are working as intended. But when quizzed why the last point above happened, they didn’t have a satisfactory answer for the same.

The reason for posting this blog is just with the hope that this catches someone’s attention, and that a review is done to make sure that my mother’s case was a one-off and not a systemic issue.

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