Does using somebody else's boarding pass make me a stowaway?

Please note: I have no intention of being a stowaway, nor do I think anybody else should.

I’m breaking this off from this thread because I have no desire to derail it.

Like Colibri, I figured that using somebody else’s ticket was a patently obvious violation of the law. Possibly owing to weak Google Fu, the only relevant thing I could find was this section of US Code. Here is how it defines a stowaway:

My layman’s reading is that the airline (the owner/charterer of the vessel) is granting consent to the person to whom the ticket has been issued, rather than granting consent to the person holding the ticket. Even if I make it past the ticket agents and flight attendants (who are not the owner, charterer, master, or person in command), I still don’t have the consent of the airline itself. That makes me, technically, a stowaway. Am I wrong?

This stowaway was arrested for felony theft and misdemeanor criminal trespassing.

Right, but she had no ticket whatsoever.

I’m wondering about a situation where a person manages (through deception, inattention by the ticket agents, or whatever else) to get on a plane using somebody else’s legitimate boarding pass.

Consent resulting from deception or deceit is void. If you want to argue inattention = consent, I’m going to ask for case law to back up your argument.

The problem here is that all of the anti-terrorist restrictions that have been introduced are supposed to prevent the ‘wrong’ person from boarding. The airlines are supposed to do some checks to ensure that everyone who buys a ticket is a legitimate traveller (I know it is largely window dressing) and getting through most of the checks and then being found out is likely to have serious consequences. If you don’t get found out, then being a stowaway or not is moot.

That boarding pass is only legitimate when used by the person it is issued to.
You, also, have no ticket whatsoever.

Right. I think we all agree that the ticket is not legitimate.

What I want to know is what specific law(s) am I breaking by using somebody else’s boarding pass? Am I a stowaway as defined by the codes linked above? Am I committing fraud against the airline?

I’m not trying to prove Colibri right or wrong in terms of the whole modding situation. We’re just into general curiosity at this point.

It’s all pretty subjective, since (unlike state law, which usually defines specific acts and specific penalties) federal law enabling the TSA doesn’t dictate specific violations and penalties; it delegates that to regulatory rule-making. Which means that the answer (such as it is) would be in TSA’s enforcement rules.

This document (PDF) is the TSA’s “Enforcement Sanction Guidance Policy”. In other words, this outlines what sanctions the TSA should impose in order to enforce their security regulations.

It covers a lot of the things you’d think of as security violations, such as an individual carrying explosives on-board or an airport hiring personnel without the mandated security check. There’s an entire table for individual violations (Table IV), and entry IV.3.G is titled “Fraud or intentional falsification”. Subjectively, this is the one I suspect the TSA would use if they caught you trying to intentionally use a false boarding pass (i.e., not you) or false identification (i.e., not you).

The penalty listed is a civil fine between $3,260 and $7,840 plus a referral for criminal investigation. They don’t say what criminal act the Federal Prosecutor might pursue; they make it clear those are outside of the TSA’s scope. And I’m no lawyer, so I won’t speculate, but I’ll just say that I can’t think of anything characterized as a Federal criminal prosecution which can be shrugged off as “minor.”

I agree with gnoitall. It would likely be prosecuted as federal criminal fraud upon the TSA. A guy making fake boarding passes was investigated in 2006 for violations of several statutes prohibiting the presentation of a false or fictitious claim on the United States.

I don’t know if this is still the case, but for years, there was a giant hole in the standard security process at airports.

The security line checks your ticket against your id, but it doesn’t tie into the airlines’ systems, so it can’t verify that the ticket has the correct name on it.

The gate checks that you have a ticket and are checked in, but doesn’t check your id.

So, if you travel with a real ticket in someone else’s name and generate a fake ticket that matches your id and present them at different times, then neither step does much.

This might be worrisome if the no-fly list had any actual security value, which it mostly doesn’t.

First, we’re talking boarding passes, not tickets. When I fly standby the airline generates a special pass which allows me through security but does not guarantee me a seat.
Your plan depends on being able to generate a boarding pass. In fact two - one for you, and one with the name and seat assignment of the person whose real ticket you are using.
If you can generate a legitimate boarding pass, all bets are off in any case.

When I flew out of indy going back on a budget airline that went bankrupt …I went to get my ticket showed my id and such …the counter guy printed every thing up and had it in the little folder and I was going to the restaurant for a coke and slipped and dropped the ticket and it fell out of the holder

luckily that happened because theyd given me Lucille Rodriguez’s ticket to Miami …I bought my coke and went back and showed the agent (a different one) … she walked over after putting the info in the computer to a shredder and shredded it an and it took 20 minutes to get a new one what was even dumber is there wasn’t even a flight to Miami from indy through that airline

She said it was lucky I noticed since if I had gotten on the flight I needed to and someone noticed the ticket the flight would of stopped and id be explaining the whole thing to law enforcement …

While it may technically fit the definition of Stowaway, it might not be practical to prosecute for such a crime. At least, not in a country that has trial by jury.

It would be reasonable to hold that the seat was paid for, not stolen, and the owner of the rights to the seat exceeded his power (or violated the terms of the contract) by having a representative occupy the seat on his behalf. Unlike the typical stowaway concept, a contract does exist between the two parties.

IANAL, but it seems to me that if the contracted transaction is fulfilled, neither party has recourse unless one or the other can show loss of something of value. Which would not be the case here. The airline can stop the ersatz passenger from using the ticket, but once the flight is completed, the ticket is flown and there is no harm to be repaired.

Yeah none of the examples in this thread fit the situation in the thread mentioned in the OP.

In that case there would be four passengers. Each of them had a legitimate ticket in their own name and had been cleared by all no fly lists/TSA checkpoints, etc. They were all four cleared to take the flight by law enforcement and the airline. At the last minute two of those passengers would give their boarding passes to the other two and not get on the plane.

If the other two passengers got on the plane using those boarding passes instead of their own what law would be broken? It couldn’t be the stowaway law mentioned in the OP because the airline expected those two passengers, accepted their payments and cleared them to board the plane. The only difference is that they boarded it using the other boarding passes, which were for passengers who also were completely cleared to fly but just chose not to at the last minute.

If they did it on purpose(and what the fuck could that purpose possibly be??), then I think they have a problem with fraud. If it was a simple mistake, then I see no problem. This sounds like the equivalent of shouting “Hi, Jack!!” at the airport just for shits and giggles, in my opinion.

If you read the other thread you know the purpose was that the first two passengers wouldn’t board but instead would return their expensive refundable tickets, purchased for the other two passengers, allowing the other two passengers to fly with tickets that were not refundable and in the names of the first two.

In spirit that could be considered fraud but in the letter of the law, I’m not sure. If you are, please cite the code you would charge them with. In any case it wouldn’t be the stowaway law mentioned in the OP. And it certainly wouldn’t be similar to shouting Hi Jack in the airport.

It is possible to become really silly in the application of the definition of a criminal act. Carrying your own bag of Skittles into a movie theater, is a violation of the terms of admission and denies the theater of something of value, namely the opportunity to earn a commission through concession sales. Asking for a senior discount at BK when you are not really over the specified age for senior has the full intent of using false pretenses to defraud the restaurant of the ten percent you are not entitled to. What is the magnitude of these crimes?

If I have a ticket to a seat in a football stadium and you have a ticket to a seat in an airliner, what distinguishes the eligibility of the ticket holder to give it to someone else for their use? Nothing, except that the airline and not the stadium nave arbitrarily and unilaterally declared that to be a part of the contract. It is no more criminal to use someone else’s air ticket than to use someone else’s football ticket. It is simply attempting to use a ticket, in plain view, in a manner that the carrier’s fine print has proscribed.

If it is so important to the airline to ensure that the passenger’s identity corresponds the name on the ticket, for purposes of public safety, law and order, or just bullying because they can, then the airline bears the burden of exercising due diligence to prevent violation. If the OP’s scheme works, the airline has been indifferent.

You can (or could, I’m not going to verify whether it’s still easy, and linking to it to prove it might well be against board rules) generate a boarding pass with any name you wish on it that would pass TSA, as long as you knew things like flight number and gate and so on.

That pass wouldn’t get you on the plane, because it wouldn’t match the airline’s computers, but that’s what you could use the real boarding pass (in someone else’s name) for.

The point is: TSA can’t tell if a boarding pass is real, because the thing that makes it real is in each airline’s computers. Maybe they can now. But they couldn’t for years.

I always print my own boarding pass a week before my flight. The original print job is indistinguishable from a xerox copy of it, which could have been adulterated.