Monday, February 4, 2008
7 News Investigations: Flight Risks
Checking in at the airport can be a hassle, with long lines and even longer waits, so those self-service check-in kiosks are a quick and easy way to get you on your way. But, as the Nightteam's Dave Kartunen tells us, while they might be easy, they could put you in a Flight Risk.
WSVN -- They're supposed to be quick and easy: check-in kiosks help you fly through the airport and onto your plane.
Traveler: "It's so much more efficient."
Another traveller: "I think they're a great thing to use. They're a lot easier."
Seven News found travelers on one airline may be trading convenience for their own safety. Watch as we take our hidden camera into both Miami International and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport.
On five different days, our producers swipe different credit cards at the unmanned United Airlines kiosk. None have flights booked, but with each swipe a name similar to the one on the credit card pops up. Not only do we get the passengers' names and their flight numbers, but, with one touch, we are instantly given the option of printing out a boarding pass.
Traveler: "Wow. That's a little unsettling. That's dangerous."
Security experts agree that boarding pass could easily get someone passed airport security.
Robert Siciliano, www.safetravelsecurity.com: "Generally, what's required to get through is just to have a boarding pass, a form of ID, that can be a driver's license, a state-issued ID or a passport, all of which in some shape or form can be counterfeited."
And that's not the only danger here. In two cases the flights we pulled up had already departed, but we were still able to get the passengers' names and flight confirmation numbers.
Dave Kartunen: "With this personal info at our fingertips, we logged on to the airline's website and easily pulled up the passengers' itineraries, frequent flier numbers, addresses and even the last four digits of one passenger's credit card."
Robert Siciliano: "That data can be used to get even more info about that person. Someone who is creative enough can go online, can use the telephone and extract more info about that person, potentially compromising their identity."
Seven News contacted the passengers whose info we were so easily able to obtain. Donna and Larry, a couple from Idaho, were shocked and angered at how easily we could track them down. They didn't want to go on camera but told us they think United Airlines owes their passengers secure levels of privacy and security of their information. Seven News found this problem isn't only in South Florida.
We swiped credit cards at United kiosks at Boston's Logan Airport and easily gained access to passengers' personal info there. We told United Airlines what we'd uncovered, and the company responded saying, "We have not seen any intentional misuse of these popular machines." The company also stressed that safety is "our number one priority" and that there are "several security layers that would respond to any attempted misuse."
As for the potential security threat, airport safety officials say the individual airlines are solely responsible for ticketing their passengers. Officials say they do have procedures in place to prevent people from getting on planes when they shouldn't.
George Nacarra: "We have trained all of our TSOs, our transportation security officers, in the art of looking for fraudulent documents."
Still, they admit that doesn't mean someone wouldn't be able to slip through undetected.
George Nacarra: "I wouldn't rule out anything. It's always possible."
We tried to do the same thing at check-in kiosks for seven other airlines, but none of them had this problem. So the bottom line is that it's up to travelers to decide if using these kiosks is a flight risk.