back to article Get out the bar, your plane's leaving

The selfish sods who hold planes up by lingering in the bar or duty free can now be pinpointed, within 4m, by cheap RFID tags on airline boarding passes. Samuel L Jackson locates late passengers with RFID Enough is enough! I'm gonna tag every motherfucking snake on this motherfucking plane! What the airline does with the …


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  1. Fuzz

    Boarding Pass?

    Like the ones you print on your home PC when you check in online? Last time I checked my printer couldn't insert RFID tags.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Don't worry

      It's anyway only meant for 100sq m airports.

    2. Annihilator

      RFID not needed on boarding tags

      They can add an RFID tag to your ticket when you check your bag in (they usually give you the end of the baggage tag, stuck to either your passport or boarding card). For those not checking a bag in, they don't need an RFID tag as the plane can bloody well leave without them without any delay as there are no bags to unload.

      I for one welcome this etc. Leave Wayne & Waynetta in Wetherspoons, ditch their bags on the runway 1 min after scheduled departure and then charge them for the privilege..

  2. DJ 2

    if they can read that well,

    Why not just read the rfid off of the passport, oh I forgot they are only supposed to be near field rfid's silly me.

  3. Jay42

    lovely, some more security theater

    "For security purposes the RFID tags can check who is going through secure areas, or running, or going against the flow of passengers."

    Nope. It will tell you that the ticket has be sitting quietly by the bar, while the tickets owner has gone off to get up to some air-side mischief!

  4. Stratman


    Excellent! Now if only they'd learn to read as well.

    "One small item of hand luggage" does not translate into "Two huge suitcases and a guitar"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      hand baggage

      One of the few fun things about flying Easyjet is watching the gate staff enforcing this. Especially at Liverpewl Earport, where half the passengers can't understand what they're being told anyway :)

      1. Red Bren

        Better than that

        Another cheap & cheerless airline lets passengers take all shapes and sizes of hand luggage out of the UK but ruthlessly enforces the restrictions on return. So passengers have to choose between leaving their possessions behind or paying through the nose to put them in the hold.

  5. There's a bee in my bot net

    More pointless security?

    "Penty was discussing TINA's work at UCL's Crime Science Conference. For security purposes the RFID tags can check who is going through secure areas, or running, or going against the flow of passengers. The information can trigger security staff to monitor CCTV of the areas identified."

    Unless of course they discard or wrap their boarding pass in tin foil...

    1. Anton Ivanov

      That is if there is anyone left alive from ground staff

      If I was ground staff I would definitely look for a different job. Passive RFID tags need to be irradiated with a sufficient amount of energy to talk back. Doing this in a building the size of the Gatwick departure lounge should be enough to unglue the back of your retina after a few months of constant exposure (if not earlier).

      If they really want to do that they should switch to plastic reusable boarding cards with active tags (or other tech like mesh altogether) which are programmed at the checkin and collected before departure. This however is another can of worms which will categorically refuse to be re-canned once it has been opened.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: That is if there is anyone left alive from ground staff

        "Doing this in a building the size of the Gatwick departure lounge should be enough to unglue the back of your retina after a few months of constant exposure (if not earlier)."

        Got a source for that?

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Online check in?

    I don't know about everyone else, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere around none of the printers I've used to print a boarding pass can add an RFID tag to the output.

    Maybe Ryanair might not object to the odd few pennies of cost an RFID tag would add, but I'm pretty sure that they'll have a right cow about the cost of going back to printing all boarding cards at the airport check-in.

    I take it this is The INtelligent Airport circa 1989 then?

    1. AdamWill

      right on

      "I take it this is The INtelligent Airport circa 1989 then?"

      Not to mention the cute antiquated reference to changing what's displayed on airport screens...really now? Anyone with eyes can see the future is getting all that flight information (and lovely, lovely advertising) piped into the herd's iPhones.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A step in the right direction.

    Now someone just needs to tackle the other 90% of reasons why planes don't take off on time.

  8. Red Bren

    Oh great, more adverts!

    "The dream is for airport displays to change as a passenger approaches, displaying information about their flight, or a targeted advert."

    First we will have to watch the advertising, only then will we be shown the flight information. The amount of advertising will increase until they track your RFID to the duty free shop till and enough money gets spent.

    1. Danny 14


      and when 20 people are stood around the departure screen with mr yakamoto and his schoolgirl fetish, that should be fun.

    2. Velv

      Other applications

      How about intelligent directions to stop passengers getting lost?

      Display screens that can show passenger name and directions when the passenger is within a set distance of the screen. Since there is a limit to the number of prople who can stand within range of one screen, it should be able to handle the capacity.

      How about more targeted announcements:

      "Would Passenger Smith traveling to Nowhere please go to gate 987 immediately" can be broadcast only to the speakers within range of Mrs Smith.

      And take this out of the airport - cheap, accurate tracking of anything in a large space.

      Patients (and maybe even Doctors) in hospitals.

      Kids at the supermarket/shopping mall.

      Yeah, OK, I concede - it's going to be used for advertising :(

  9. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    That'll be as good as the internal US flight I was on a few months ago where I nearly smashed the cheap'n'nasty screen embedded in the back of the seat in front of me that wouldn't show anything other than adverts unless you swiped your credit card and paid to watch something (doubtless little better than the adverts).

    Luckily, for me or the screen, not sure which - I found some tape and heavy card (i.e. static advertising) that blocked the screen nicely.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: Advertising?

      Nick - if you'd named the airline, we could all avoid it. Or take tape 'n' card in our hand luggage to fly with them. Or a can of spray-paint. Oops, it's a liquid.

      Why American advertisers have to shove everything in your face defeats me. Eventually, it just becomes background noise, and totally ineffective. Bit like the idea we should encourage more and more CCTV cameras - far too much information to process for the cash-strapped 'security' (haha) bods, and they become basically useless.

      <rant />

    2. Anonymous Coward

      KLM is better

      On my last KLM flight I got to watch the Linux boot sequence twice as the inflight entertainment crashed twice during the flight. Given the number of missing symbol and assorted module-not-found errors it's a miracle it only crashed twice, but it was more entertaining than their choice of movies.

      Why every screen was showing the console baffles me, though. Aren't those seat-back displays just peripherals?

      1. Darryl

        OK Now I KNOW you're making that up

        Linux doesn't crash!

        1. Danny 14


          it wasnt crashing, it was showing debug information. There is a difference

      2. Jay 2

        Pengins can fly?

        I saw something similar on the last Thomson flight I took. Though a system reboot seemed to be the alleged fix for symptoms such as a broken screen or a handset with a less than connected cable. It was almost like a busman's holiday... Still didn't see any penguins on holiday, only some flamingos.

  10. lglethal Silver badge

    For passengers useless, for baggage very convenient

    As was mentioned in the passing in the article, this would be incredibly efficient for baggage handling, and would seriously speed up that side of the flight equation (so maybe we wouldnt have to check in at least 45mins beforehand to ensure your luggage makes it to your flight!). And as baggage has to be submitted at a check in desk. this is clearly doable.

    But as has been mentioned above, many airlines are going to print from home tickets, so the addition of RFIDs to those definitely negates the purpose of the scheme - getting people through check in before they even get to the airport. Also as mentioned above, if an RFID is used to track what someone is doing in the airport - this will have zero affect on stopping someone planning to do something illegal. They'll just leave there ticket (or remove the RFID surreptitiously) and leave it in another area of the airport.

    So in conclusion, for passengers this is next to useless. For baggage, this could be a massive improvement!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bag Tags

      Many airports now embed RFID in checked bag tags anyway, and have done for some time.

    2. Britt Johnston
      Big Brother

      for your comfort and safety

      , as analysed, eartagging of passengers has become necessary. However, this is no more restrictive than standard airport procedures.

      If you do not yet have a tag, please check-in at your local vet's at least two days before take-off.

      If you are flying business class, you may sync your Blackberry, and leave the tag at home.

  11. JaitcH

    Says it all: Heathrow has ... decided not to go ahead. - as dumb as ever

    Little wonder that Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is way ahead of of Heathrow in almost all respects - except for that officious little woman baggage inspector always give a hard time.

    Heathrow, the perpetual construction site that mixes passengers and planes together in the most inefficent, hostile environment ever devised.

    And this is the gateway airport to Britain? A sick, sick joke.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @JaitcH - Chronology Fail

      BAA will have been looking at this tech a decade ago for setting the specification of T5 and years ago in setting the specification for the current central terminal project. The state of the art was below the accuracy at which the system is economic. Sure they could have gone ahead in the hope the tech would improve and accepted the increased manpower intervention costs in the mean time but do we really need another reason for ticket prices to go up? Heathrow's landing fees are already among the highest in the world.

      Maybe in the light of this research they should look again for the next project, Heathrow East. Maybe they are looking already.

      1. Tempest

        Heathrow is a living example of failure and their attitude is little better

        It is hard to look at a technology 10 years before it's arrival, besides T5 was customised for that other British loss leader called BA and it's unlikelihood of making up pension shortfalls.

        BAA has relied on an acquiescent government riding roughshod over the local populace whilst it follows its myopic plans. An airport of this size needs diversification with high-speed rail links between downtown and the peripheral airports. This government should force it to assign services to the other 'London' airports instead of sinking all of it's assets in this anachronism.

        LHR is a blight on southern England with stacked aircraft dotted all over the place - polluting the countryside.

        The difference between HKG and LHR is well made: one is progressive and the other regressive.

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    I always considered Heathrow a sort of desensitization experiment.

    You arrive on your nice comfortable efficient Singapore Airlines flight, after a week in nice,comfortable, efficient Singapore, or Malaysia, or Korea, or Japan then Heathrow is a very nice efficient way to inoculate you against the world of broken escalators, dirt, permanent half-finished construction and British 'customer-service' before you hit the tube.

  13. multipharious


    As someone that unfortunately travels a good bit, I notice when I get delayed by a straggler that does not appear to be sweating from a run. I am surprised nobody else even mentioned this. I for one would be very happy if Senator or Gold status people (after a fair warning) were stripped of their status for waiting until they hear their name called over the PA while a planeload of passengers is waiting on that person's lazy, selfish ass so the magic words, "Boarding Completed" can be spoken. On accident, no big deal. Repeated offenses?

    I heard of a fellow that does this on purpose, and thinks it is funny. The airlines did not track this in the past, or were too afraid of their status passengers to do anything about it...and better to delay the pushback, miss the takeoff slot, and let the whole plane wait than to upset this fellow so he can get his jollies. I sure hope they are tracking this behavior now, and if the RFID can be used to locate lollygaggers...which seems to me the goal in the article...then perhaps things are taking a turn.

    Unfortunately, I know there are the "other" uses of the RFID tags...mentioned above in other coments in detail.

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