In any airport I frequent, this would not be worth the money. Some garages offer free parking for 30 minutes for pick-ups, but by the time you park, go through security, eat, and return you would owe at least $4. Then there's the time/gas cost of getting to/from the airport. Even if you used public transport it could be expensive, it's like $16 round-trip on BART from SFO to downtown San Francisco.
It's really not a problem for places with decent public transportation. There are parts of the world where it makes sense to have a monthly or annual pass. I've no idea what it is like in the area where this occurred though.
The Skytrain in Vancouver goes from the downtown to YVR in about 30 minutes. It is possible to go to the airport and back on a $2.75 ticket (on weekends and holidays; the ticket is valid for 90 minutes).
I don't specifically know about Xi'an, but I remember in 2012 subways in Beijing were a flat 2 rmb (about 0.35 USD) and in Shanghai something like 2 to 4 rmb depending on distance. Nanjing was similar, but I don't remember the specifics. So assuming all Chinese cities that have subways charge the same order of magnitude, this loophole would have indeed been valuable.
There are airports that are easier to get to (for example London City Airport that I use often) - though not sure how many airports that conveniently located have good first class lounges. But would definitely make sense if you live near the airport, or work at the airport, or if rather than going just for a meal you use it as office space (go there, eat breakfast, work using their free wifi, lunch, etc.)
This story happened in China. I don't know about China, but maybe their airport security is not as bad as U.S.
Personal story: Bringing liquids to airplanes is not allowed in Iran. I remember on our flight back from Shiraz, we brought about 8 liters of rose water, orange blossom water, etc. with us. The security saw it in the screen and asked what the liquid was. "Herbal water", I said. He nodded and called, "Next". Didn't even open the bottles to make sure.
Also many people bring back several liters of water from the holy Well of Zamzam in their flight back from Mecca. The record I've heard of was 40 liters.
They follow the American protocols, and then some.
Last time I was there, after handing my bags over I got called to the inspector's room. They'd x-rayed my bags and seen a cigarette lighter . I have no idea how they recognized it as such, but they pointed to the area in my bag where it had been seen, and asked me to open the bag and remove it.
On another flight, we were all waiting in line to check-in, but the agents hadn't shown up. Somebody gave up on waiting, and just left their bags sitting in line - this while the recording about unattended bags was playing (yes, they've got that in China, too). It was funny to watch everyone in the line studiously ignoring the unattended bag, for fear that they'd shut down the terminal while calling the bomb squad, and we'd all miss our plane.
 I don't smoke, but it's in my first aid kit for sterilizing a needle.
it gives people the illusion that they're safe even though the actual incident which prompted the creation of the TSA and DHS has been ridiculously under-investigated and official conclusions' are full of holes.
I've never flown domestically in China, but I remember security being worse than in America. I remember having to take my shoes off before it became standard in America and having to go through security a second time right before getting on the plane where all the drinks I bought after security had to be thrown out.
My anecdotal experience at Guangzhou (2 months ago), flying internationally, was the opposite. Didn't have to remove shoes, didn't have to take my laptop out of my bag. I was going to remove my belt before going through the metal detector but they told me not to, which set off the alarm. All they did was wave a handheld metal detector over my body and then I was through. Didn't get patted down and didn't have to go through a body scanner.
I flew from the airport in question to Shanghai a couple of months ago.
Security wasn't unpleasant, but it took a while, there was a long and slow moving line. We had to discard lighters and show passports, but the latter is par for the course in China. It feels like the Chinese are slightly more overbearing with foreigners, which helps, since there's a huge language barrier.
We where lugging a flight case of cymbals, which got quite a lot of attention and laughter from the operators going through the x-ray.
Not if you tell them you're just going to eat. Seems like that's pretty easy to confirm. Why be sneaky about it? Obviously nobody at the airline lounge cared that this guy showed up every day, why would the guards care?
Imagine you're a guard there and I drop by every day for a meal. You're wondering if I'm a a terrorist looking for security holes while I eat, and your biggest concern is false negatives: you would hate to rule me out as a threat and then find out I blew up your airport. What questions would you ask me to figure that out?
There's a reason you don't often see phrases like, "Can't prove a negative," used by people whose job is to evaluate security risks. The relevant way of approaching problems like these tends to use a lot less Boole and a lot more Bayes.
So, same question, and this time really think about it: you are capable of keeping an eye on a limited number of potential threats, you can never completely disprove that any individual means you harm, but you have to look as carefully as you can at the most plausible threats in the time you have available. How suspicious is my behavior, and what evidence would it take to convince you that my threat is negligible? What about the idea that you might personally be blamed if you cleared me and I later turned out to be a terrorist: does that affect your calculations? If so, is that in the best interests of the airport, or just you personally?
That assumes that on-scene guards ask questions of the subject before reporting observed suspicious behavior (which may or may not be the case, and is even less likely the case in the event that the "guards" that observe the behavior are automated face/gait/etc. recognition systems looking for unusual patterns.)
The "hack" I've seen the most frequently is buying a ticket that gets you in the priority lane in addition to a standard ticket so that one can go through minimal security wait times and then cancel the ticket in time for a refund.
Couldn't it get you in trouble? You'd have to check your bags under the standard ticket, but enter security under the premium one, and airport security might realize they have the same person on the flight twice.
I don't even know where to begin telling you how wrong you are.
While I often just pack a carry-on bag for weekend trips, anything more than 2-3 days I'm checking a bag. I don't have to pay for it, my bags get priority-tagged so I don't have a long wait at the other end, and I've had to reroute due to weather at a connection twice in the past year, both of which I knew about before arriving at the airport.
So of the arguments raised against checking bags in the replies further down, none of them actually apply, and checking a bag means less stuff for me to lug around in the airports.
The choice of whether to check a bag or not is, thus, dependent on the specific passenger, the specifics of their trip, etc., and it is irresponsible and flat-out wrong to suggest otherwise, especially in such a "this is right and everything else is wrong" fashion.
Does it count as "extraordinary circumstances" that I carry a Leatherman pretty much everywhere I go? Since we became scared of everything sharper than a thumb, I've had to check a bag if I want to travel with my multitool, which I don't think is terribly unreasonable.
I used to routinely fly with it on my person. I'd take it out of its sheath, put it in the basket for keys and change and such at the metal detector, and hand that to the uniformed agent standing there. I was never once challenged for this, or even looked askance at.
Checking bags adds a lot of time to your trip after the plane lands, you have to wait ages in many cases for the ground crews to unload and process your baggage. In addition the size for carry-on luggage is pretty large with a small amount of work you can pretty easily get all you need for a trip into the carry-on baggage.
Except for a few bad days, I generally don't wait long for my checked luggage. It's sometimes already there by the time I make it to the claim area. Finding overhead space can be a hassle and I much prefer boarding and unboarding without dragging a ton of stuff. And carry-on obviously limits the items you can bring along on a plane.
Your arguments are perfectly valid for some, but this is isn't a case of "this method is obviously right".
The size is basically the same everywhere because there's limited difference in the planes. EG American Airlines which I just flew has the limit of 56 x 36 x 23 cm. Big enough for a one week duffel easily.
No, because the comments on Schneiers blog add value that isn't on the original source. Which is why there are now (two even) comments here that link to comments on the linked blog post. Schneier also found the comments on HN helpful, which is why he now links to this HN thread, even though the HN thread just linked his blog.
I work in a pretty big GDS/IT company and that wouldn't happen in our systems. Virtually no airline asks for such a retarded business rule, flexible classes allow generally 1 to 5 changes in departure date/time(no questions asked), after that it requires manual intervention on a case by case basis.
I'm thinking he never changed the actual flight info, he just manually "photoshopped" the data on the ticket. Even with the barcodes, many airports and lounges do not actually check the barcodes, they just visually verify the info.
There was a story a few years back when Delta and some others started doing boarding by zones. People were doing online checking, saving their printable ticket as a PDF or whatever, and editing that file to change the "Zone 4" text/image to "Zone 1", and then getting early boarding.
If you travel with any regularity you soon realize that all these special checks and verifications are pretty weak. Even when you are in a place that DOES use the barcode reader to pull the data, it wouldn't be that hard to hack the barcode. The reader devices appear to be non-networked, so they are just scanning a code and displaying text. I haven't personally tried it, but that kind of "encryption", if there is any, is pretty easy to reverse engineer. You can have multiple data samples (tickets), and you know at least some of the key info contained within (passenger name, flight info, etc.) and you can experiment endlessly until you figure it out.
I don't understand the apparent desire for early boarding. Almost every airport lounge I've been in has been more comfortable than the aircraft. The plane's not going to leave without you. I much prefer sitting in the lounge and wandering on last.
Space for carry-on luggage is limited. If you board last, there is a high possibility that the airline will check-in your carry-on luggage instead. This will cause you a delay since now you need to wait in the baggage claim area after arrival. Had you boarded just 5mins prior, someone else might have to wait 30mins in baggage claim instead of you.
Ever have this happen? It doesn't happen this way.
They have special space for "checked carryon." they ticket it with a special ticket and put it in a SEPARATE part of the plane. When you unload the flight attendants get the "checked carryon" and put it next to the door, then you grab it on your way out.
I sat on the front of a small plane before and there was no space for carryon at all on that seat. There was no seat in front to put it under, and the overheads on that seat had a bunch of flight attendant stuff in them. Being the first on the plane wouldn't have enabled me to avoid the "checked carryon."
This weekend, my partner had her backpacked gate-checked, but it didn't go to the separate part of the plane. It became checked luggage, which then failed to come off the plane and landed in another airport. Fun times having a carryon lost on you.
Well, that came out silly in hindsight - of course there are more options than the overhead compartment and under the chair in front of you.
What I was trying to say is that I've found it unusual that I've not been able to put my carry-on baggage under the chair in front of me and I have not noticed the flight crew having to handle any other options than the two above.
The only reason I don't like boarding last is that sometimes the overhead storage is so full it can be a pain in the ass to fit my suitcase anywhere near my seat, which not only is a minor annoyance when boarding, but can delay me when getting off (if I have to put it further behind where I sit). Generally I aim to be in the last 3rd of people boarding.
There are also budget airlines that don't offer reserved seating (e.g. EasyJet and Ryanair in Europe - I think, I don't fly these airlines though), so priority boarding on them allows you to chose a seat, or to ensure you sit next to whoever you're traveling with.
That's a different situation. Boarding time is often up to half an hour before departure. If you're at the gate but sitting (rather than queuing anxiously or even, as some people do, trying your best to board first for some reason) then they're not going to deny you boarding simply for being one of the last people to board the plane. If there's a gap between the queue ending before you arrive, then you're more likely to be denied boarding.
Boarding first or near the first is much better when you end up with a seat near the back, since it means you can just walk all the way through a mostly empty plane, put your stuff in the empty overhead compartments, and get seated without having to make your way through a narrow corridor filled with other people fiddling with their stuff. If your seat is near the door, then the opposite of this advice holds: be one of the last to enter the plane, and you won't have to get jostled around by everyone else behind you walking by. I think if everyone queued up in this order (furthest from door enter first, closest to door enter last) it would make boarding a lot more efficient.
> The way to fix it is equally obvious: Verify the accuracy of the boarding passes at the security checkpoints. If passengers had to scan their boarding passes as they went through screening, the computer could verify that the boarding pass already matched to the photo ID also matched the data in the computer. Close the authentication triangle and the vulnerability disappears.
The last time I flew, they scanned my boarding pass at the security checkpoint and made a bunch of random marks all over it. I would be surprised if they accepted your second, unadulterated boarding pass at the gate.
If they used a cryptographic signature, they could detect ticket tampering without networking the barcode readers. I'd be somewhat surprised if they actually did that, but it would make it much harder to forge them.
Technically, if it's already ticketed it's a refund, not a cancel (at GDS level at least), but airlines use both the same at marketing level.
You can try that but full refunds are unusual, normally there's a penalty fee. More than for preventing ripping off lounges, it's to prevent third parties from playing tricks on the seats' availability. Maybe it still pays off, have a look!
> full refunds are unusual, normally there's a penalty fee.
At least on United (not too familiar with other airlines' policies), full-fare tickets (Y, J, F) are refundable without a fee. If it was paid on a credit card, they'll typically just reverse the charge.
No, fully refundable fares are fully refundable at any time up to the flight. That's the whole point of a "fully-refundable" fare; it has no penalties for refunds. This is made pretty clear in the fare rules, and is the basic reason to buy full-fare tickets rather than discount fares (apart from the mileage bonus, I guess).
The 24 hour limit is for refunds on non-refundable fares. Most airlines will still let you cancel any ticket within the first 24 hours, even a discount fare (in the US, the DOT requires this for tickets booked at least 7 days in advance).
Once upon a time the lounges in the US had unlimited free drinks. (I don't travel as much now, so I'm not sure any more) It might not be worth the commute to an airport for a mediocre lunch, but for all you can drink?
The real issue is the time involved though. A few hours is worth more than a couple dollars saved.
Shoplifting can be a bit of an art. I agree with you that the “hacking” thing is overused, but I think it makes sense to call something like booster bags a “hack”, for example. There are lots of “hacks” for shoplifting.
Aren't hackers notorious for being interested in things like lockpicking? And that interest is based on an interest in taking apart a system? Shoplifting has worse consequences than recreational lockpicking, but I could see it having some of the same system deconstruction appeal if approached in the right way (not advocating shoplifting, by the way)
I completely agree, except I am advocating shoplifting. I also wish there were more hackers who would use their lockpicking skills for more than just recreation. I feel like the idea that “hacking” can only be motivated by pure curiousity, and not by anything political or in any way threatening, is an idea that serves the interests of the people in power. They don't want us to think about or analyse our political situation, or to try to change it; they would rather divert our attention and our abilities towards solving rather pointless puzzles, which at best are inconsequential, or at worst just make them even more money.
Shoplifting is anticipated and not at all novel. It's not out of scope of the shops primary function (one of which is to protect the retailer).
Perhaps 'trick' would be a better term in this airport case. I guess the difference between a trick and a hack is that you can't trick a machine (it does what it's told and doesn't care what your intentions are) but you can certainly trick people (they can be fooled in to misreading your intentions and responding dynamically). Also a trick is usually just about improving device utility rather than re-purposing it.
I agree that the word is overused. Just like "hacker" is. For instance I don't think half the articles linked here on Hacker News have anything to do with hacking (I'm not saying this is bad), and a lot of them pretend to be by having "hacker" in the title (and this, I think, is bad: no, it's not because you coded that in Ruby or Node.js instead of PHP that your blogging platform is for hackers…).
But clearly "hacking" can be used for things other than computer related stuff, and I feel like calling a clever trick "hacking" is less harmful (well, it's even harmless IMHO). Getting back to your comment, I feel that here it is a valid usage of the word. Take something similar for instance: calling Steal This Book  a kind of society hacking cookbook (it is mostly outdated though) feels completely right to me.
Defending the meaning of the word may be important, but wanting to restrain its usage all the time is useless and counterproductive.
Hacking has unfortunately become a buzzword, and now you can apply it to just about anything to make something stupid sound clever: "Honey, let me hack the light bulb for you". I agree with you, it's plain ridiculous.
I agree - articles like this are saying, "I'm hacking the phone system by checking busy payphones for change," or "I'm hacking my favorite bar by not tipping the waiters, so I save 15%!" It really gives hacking a bad name.