Sunday, July 30, 2006

How To Change A Southwest Airlines Boarding Pass From a "C" or "B" to an "A"!

Note to self: Tell airlines that HTML based print-at-home boarding passes are a bad idea. The info below is very innocuous, but if you think about other things that could be done.....

Ok, people I have a plane to catch but I thought you might find this useful. If you fly Southwest, you know that being a B or C sucks. If you print your boarding passes, you never have to be in that group again.

1) Use Firefox (IE cannot correctly save the web page).

2) When viewing your boarding pass, click "File" then "Save Page As". You want the "Save as Type" to be "Web Page, Complete".

3) Save this graphic: http://www.southwest.com/images/boardingA.gif somewhere on your hard drive.

4) Use any HTML editor to change the "B" or "C" graphic on your saved boarding pass to the "A" graphic that you saved.

You now have an A boarding pass. This works perfectly, and before you ask - no - the A, B, or C is not embedded or associated in any way with the barcode on the side so you'll be fine. If you don't believe me, watch the screen attached to the boarding pass scanner the next time you are boarding on Southwest. It just turns green and says "Valid Boarding Pass" - nothing about boarding group.

Can you Digg It?

Ryan

74 Comments:

Blogger Sander said...

what about the number on the bottom left that shows the number you checked in at. "20 = 20th person" I think after 50 it switches to a B. You would need to change that just in case there was a attentive person at the gate.

What are the legal ramifications for altering a boarding pass?

9:09 AM

 
Blogger MattG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:13 AM

 
Blogger MattG said...

This is retarded. You'll get thrown off your flight.

Your topic should read "How to forge..."

9:14 AM

 
Blogger Gregory Casamento said...

I fly Southwest all the time. Their policy on this is that, if you or someone else modifies your boarding pass in any way, then it's void. This is on the ticket when you print it out, so you have been warned.

I don't know about you, but it seems rather foolish to risk loosing money by being thrown off the flight because of something stupid like this, especially when you can simply check in online EARLY and get an "A" placement.

Please don't forge your Southwest airline tickets. It's rude, and it can cost you money. :)

Later, GJC

9:20 AM

 
Blogger Bryan said...

Only catch is the passenger number is printed on the bottom left of the boarding card (e.g. 98). Only the first 75 passengers get a A assignment. Also, since the gate person takes your boarding pass you may find out later with a tap on the door that they didn't like you 'doctoring' with the boarding pass.

9:20 AM

 
Blogger Palal said...

First of all, there's also a little number on the bottom-right of your pass. There are only 45 A-passes that WN gives out. If things get too suspicious, WN will simply start looking at the number. Of course this may soon be unnecessary if they move to asigned seating. Also, if too many people start doing this, they'll increase the security of a boarding document.

In any case, it is EXTREMELY easy to get an A boarding pass and I simply don't know why you'd need an A boarding pass if you were doing online checkin.

9:42 AM

 
Blogger Pseudo said...

Just so you know.. this has been forwarded on to people at SWA, and changes are being made to prevent this in the very near future.

1:01 PM

 
Blogger hotphotos said...

So much for that idea... I've been 100% successful in getting A on southwest simply by checking-in online 24-hours before the flight. But i'll give you an "A" for effort ;)

1:48 PM

 
Blogger Shawn Medero said...

Great... now I won't be able to print boarding passes at home because SWA will move to some Internet Explorer only digital rights management hack to stop people from doing this. Weeee.

:/

2:57 PM

 
Blogger MattyD said...

KICK ASS

6:15 PM

 
Blogger Michael said...

RISK: Getting thrown off your flight, arrested or worse.

REWARD: You get to pick your seat BEFORE the fat snoring guy picks the one next to you.

6:26 PM

 
Blogger natophonic said...

Rather than put the check in the web browser (which results in 50,000 support calls per day from customers who now can't print their tickets because they're running IE 5 on Windows ME, etc., and still doesn't solve the problem wrt to hackers willing to screensnap the image and edit in Photoshop)... seems like it'd be a lot easier to embed the passenger number in the barcode and upgrade the firmware in the boarding card checkers to blink a big red light when the barcode/passenger#/boarding-group doesn't match up.

The red light isn't a signal for airport security or air marshalls or whatnot to come arrest you, it's the signal for the big guys with gold chains and teethcaps waiting in the B and C groups to come and beat the living shit out of you. Those Raider Nation boys in Oaktown are ruff, yo.

7:03 PM

 
Blogger Matt said...

Christ, people are getting so up in arms about this. It's the airline's responsibility to have a secure and intelligent system in place to prevent any kind of tampering with the boarding passes they allow you to print ahead of time. If you must be outraged, it should be that Southwest uses such an absurdly insecure system, not that someone discovered and posted an exploit of said system. He isn't so much telling you that you should do it as he is providing the information if the reader is so inclined. This is SW's mistake, no one elses.

6:45 AM

 
Blogger Austin said...

Hmm..if you forge your boarding pass, Southwest gets N passengers times D dollars/passenger equals ND dollars.

If there is a secure fraud-proof system that keeps a few moo-cows from sitting on the aisle and forces them to the middle instead then Southwest gets N passengers times D dollars/passenger equals ND dollars.

What's their incentive to fix this, again?

Is boarding-pass fraud equivalent to terrorism?

Are the TSA goons going to drag you off the flight for failing to honor the "I called shotgun" rule?

Or are they going to shrug and say "Some passengers are smarter than others?"

11:41 AM

 
Blogger Austin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:41 AM

 
Blogger Robert said...

only the 45 Customers are in group A. And yes, Southwest can void your boarding pass if it is altered in any way.

6:57 AM

 
Blogger kadavy said...

"A" passes aren't that great anyway, and here's why.

8:26 AM

 
Blogger Yo said...

All you have to do is ask for a pre-boarding pass, they aren't allowed to refuse a request for one. If they ask for a reason, just make something up.

2:32 PM

 
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2:35 PM

 
Blogger neville said...

This is fraud, plain and simple. Do not use this method. It is equivalent to lying, cheating and stealing.

If you want an A boarding pass there are legitimate ways to do it.

#1 if you have already checked in and got a "C", delete your boarding pass (not reservation) at http://southwest.com/travel_center/deleteCheckinDoc.html and re-check in again. If someone on the A group switches to an earlier flight 2 hours before departure, that slot will become open for you to take. If not, you will just get your C back. Do not do this if you have a B because likely you will get a C if no A is available.

#2 Use an online checkin service. These services act as a proxy for you and your web browser. You put in the checkin request ahead of time and when the 24 hour window opens up they checkin for you and email you your boarding pass. You are not guaranteed an A this way because these services do not control Southwest’s boarding pass assignments, but people who check in very early typically get an “A”.

6:21 AM

 
Blogger Skyhigh said...

If they throw you of the flight, do they at least have the courtesy of giving you a parashute?

9:57 PM

 
Blogger hikeit said...

okay, just in case anyone is smart enough to try this a year on, I wouldn't suggest it... decoded the barcode (it uses standard PDF417), and it includes, in the barcode, the flight number, originating airport, date, some random unknown letters, the PASSENGER NUMBER, the BOARDING GROUP, lastname/firstname, more random unknown letters. So don't bother getting yourself thrown off of anything, relax in the chairs while everyone else is clamoring for group A.

4:45 PM

 
Blogger Ken and Helen said...

I found this blog entry because I was trying to find out how many people get A's. I am flying tomorrow at 10:15 am. I did an on-line check-in at 10:45 am today and got a B. Geeze! You'd think 23-and-a-half hours would be soon enough to get an A pass.

8:28 AM

 
Blogger Don said...

well the way I look at it is screw with the system and all of us will get hurt. If SWA finds out that this can happen and want to tighten security guess what happens.. we get our boarding passes at the gate like the old days so instead of sitting on your butt at home you will have to go to the airport 2 hours early to get a "A" just because a few people think they have the right to modify their document. Let me take time right now to say THANK YOU!!! for screwing up a good thing and I will remember you while I am sitting at the airport 2 hours early with my "A" pass

5:02 AM

 
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9:35 AM

 
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Blogger Red C. said...

I agree with this tip IN THEORY, but Southwest now has a sequence number next to the boarding group. So you get into the "A" group but you'll want to make sure you're not duplicating any other passenger's sequence number. Otherwise, you'd be committing fraud. And for what, to get a window seat? It's really not that hard even with the cattle call system, as there will be plenty of window seats in the back, anyway.

9:46 AM

 
Blogger William said...

...Wow everyone so torn up about this. Ok first off this isn't only Southwest Boarding passes. Second you should not be freaking out because people change the Seat Assignment. Watch out for those people who change the name on the Boarding pass so that someone who is on the no fly list can walk onto the plane and through security with their own id. As it won't be flagged when getting the flight as the flight thanks John doe is flying when the actual person and boarding pass both say Jane Smith. This is a lot more serious than a seat placement. Now Argue about my comment :)

1:01 PM

 
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4:50 PM

 
Blogger sinclairdope said...

you got the message?

4:51 PM

 
Blogger Walter Crunch said...

OK, I have done this twice. The link to the letter "A" still seems to work just fine. Here is what I do. First, download an HTML editor to do the deed. I found Word used to work..but last time it did not. I used a free editor out there. Print it off on a nice printer. Remember..people see what they want to see.

When I get to the gate, I watch the FA to see how attentive they are. If they are really looking at the letters on the sheet, I note that.

Once, while flying out of Burbank, the FA was literally yelling at the passengers and checking each sheet AND the readout. The flight was completely full. It was also the end of the day.

On a flight out of Denver, the FA did not care and I got my seat of choice. I sat in the back..I hate the front. You are first to be creamed in the front. Anyhow...

It works. If something goes wrong..or they say something..just play dumb..let them know your kid printed it out for you. It's not a crime. You till have a seat on the plane. People that are going on and complaining are simply internet Ninjas who miss their assignment to monitor the drinking fountain in first grade.

Oh..I always carry both versions of the boarding pass with me just in case.

I am sure Southwest employees are reading this with interest...

12:30 PM

 

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