59 People Have Been Arrested In Singapore This Year For Misusing Boarding Passes

Filed Under: Travel

Many of us have at one point or another booked a refundable airline ticket for the purpose of gaining access to an airport airside. I’ll gladly admit that I have. There are lots of reasons to potentially do this — you want to spend a few extra minutes with a loved one either dropping them off at the airport or picking them up, you want to meet a friend in a lounge, etc.

In the US it’s not illegal, though an airline could make the argument that it violates the contract of carriage if you didn’t have the intent to fly.

However, in Singapore it’s a different story. In Singapore it’s illegal to misuse boarding passes. This is probably partly because you have to go through immigration to even enter the terminal, so it becomes an immigration issue.

I’ve written about stories of people being arrested at Changi Airport for doing exactly this. Last year:

Could you imagine spending 18 days here?

What I didn’t realize is just how frequent of an issue this seems to be. The Straits Times reports that in the first half of 2017, 59 people were arrested at Changi Airport for misusing boarding passes:

A total of 59 people have been arrested for misusing their boarding passes in the first half of this year, almost triple the 22 arrests for the whole of 2015 and the 23 seen last year.

“People who misuse boarding passes are detected when they exit via the immigration channel,” said a police spokesman.

Airlines say they are not able to differentiate cases of abuse from other “no show” cases.

Generally, all “no show” cases – including passengers who have checked in and have been issued boarding passes, yet do not show up for their flights – are reported to the airport police.

If convicted of this offense, people face up to two years in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

I’m shocked to hear this “problem” is getting worse, especially given how much media attention there was last year surrounding a couple of the instances of people being arrested.

Interesting stuff…

(Tip of the hat to SINJim)

  1. Yeap. And I know one of the 59. Pretty love-actually kind of reason for them. Guess they thought if it works in the movies it would work for them.

  2. Thank god they doubt have stupid Frick liberals that break the law and make it sound like a human rights issue.

  3. I was detained for about an hour at Changi back in 2013 for the capital crime of holding a duplicate boarding pass — CX had issued me with a second one for the same flight when I rechecked my bag in SIN. Supposedly this was a big no-no.

  4. So in order to spend a few more minutes with relatives people purchase a ticket on a plane they have no intention of taking? Isn’t the end result that because there is one less seat on the plane the people who come after those people may now have the price on their tickets increase for a flight they legitimately need? What if those people took the last seat for sale? I mean this seems really selfish.

  5. @Bill, that’s why airlines overbook. They know there’ll be no shows, they can predict relatively reliably and can calculate the odds of a no-show according to the ticket bought (certain tickets have a higher chance of a no-show compared to others)

  6. How does airport security differentiate between a boarding pass holder who is casing the facilities for criminal intent and a free-loader?

  7. republicans (the rich ones) don’t have to worry about consequences for breaking the law (child molestation, bribery, etc). They have money to pay good lawyers.

    republitards (like the ones leaving replies here) are just to stupid to understand that they go to jail when they break the law.

    They will also lose their health benefits, social security, house, etc, but continue to vote for the guy who says will take them away. Eventually, once it happens to them, they complain.

    Time for idiots to take responsibility of their stupidity.

  8. “Many of us” do this? really? Would love to see a separate post inviting readers to say when, where, and why they have done this. Seems a little sketchy. Also very few lounges in the US where it’s worth it.

  9. ooh I bet you there is a couple who met online and just “wanted to have sex in a cool place”.

    Seriously now, if you check in just to get the boarding pass, and access the airside, doesnt it automatically render the ticket as used ? The airlines should be able to match it. no ?

  10. @milgom except when people show and then people get bumped. If this is what causes overbooking by airlines (which I don’t think it does) all the more reason to consider these people selfish.

  11. There are some folks here that did not take the time to work their way through the logic – US flights that is.

    1) Going through TSA does not connect to airline databases. And even if it did, and you had one REAL boarding pass and another one so you could use a lounge, that would not trigger anything.

    2) There are people that go through security with full intent to fly, but then get a call to change plans, stay home, etc. All legal.

    3) If someone had a lounge pass for one airline, but were flying a different one for the day, and had hours to kill, buying a refundable ticket to show the lounge lizards would work just fine. If ever question later – just say you plans changed.

    Still – I am not suggesting this, just saying it can happen, legit or fraudulently.

  12. BKK , MNL , KUL same thing you reach airside after immigration
    SIN is strict with many things , like bringing in ANY tobacco without paying customs duty.
    If You forget 1 pack , it´s a 500 SGD fine.Due to strict and enforced laws , Singapore is probably the safest , cleanest and most efficient country to visit .

  13. jorge – not necessarily. Depending on the system used by the airline a ticket may not show as “used” until the passenger has boarded and the flight has been completed. Until then it will usually show as checked in. There are many reasons why someone doesn’t fly. A common one is business meeting running late or early (so the passenger flies early). Sometimes the reason for the flight gets cancelled ( a meeting gets cancelled, plans fall through, etc.). This is why airlines sell fully refundable tickets or very flexible flight passes. If a passenger doesn’t fly the ticket can go back to available status so that the segment can be used again (usually with a fee unless it’s a fully flexible fare).

  14. I would love to meet someone stupid enough who has no life to actually buy a ticket to not use it. Wtf?

  15. re: “I would love to meet someone stupid enough who has no life to actually buy a ticket to not use it. Wtf?”

    Read the article. They bought the ticket as a way to get into the airport. Or in some cases, to get into a lounge. So, they did use it.

    And, if refundable, they got their money back. Why is that so hard to understand?

  16. In singapore they have the automated channel for Singaporeans and residents to use eliminating the need to see an immigration officer. I do wonder if the machine can detect that you actually didn’t leave the country and enter another?

  17. “Many of us have at one point or another booked a refundable airline ticket for the purpose of gaining access to an airport airside.”
    LOL, um, no I haven’t. That seems just silly. My time is way too precious to be so frivolous like that. It never even occurred to me to even do something like that.
    Guess it really does take all types to make this world lol.

  18. hi ! Can one explain how this works. Because if once you are issued a boarding pass, that means you have used the ticket right ? Only when you have a boarding pass would you get into a lounge.
    So how do these guys manage to get the refund and get back through immigration .

  19. (reply to Sujay Uchil)
    Here we go again. You can get a boarding pass up to 24 hours in advance. As said by many already, sometimes people are already at the airport and the trip gets changed for business or personal reasons and they do not BOARD the plane.

    Until you board the plane, you have not flown and the ticket has not been used. No boarding, no fly, no use of ticket.

    So, since the ticket has not been used, you get a refund.

  20. “Many of us have at one point or another booked a refundable airline ticket for the purpose of gaining access to an airport airside. ”

    If you know ‘many’ people who have done this, then I suspect you run in a fairly exclusive circle of folks. Dont get me wrong, I’ve gotten a pass to meet family members at the gate before. But paid for a refundable ticket *just* to get airside? No. (Forgive me, but that seems more than a bit silly.) When meeting family, I’ve gone to the ticket counter and explained what I was requesting (always after phoning the airline for their specific procedure first), and they have given me a ‘boarding pass’ that allowed me access through security.

  21. It seems the easiest way for airlines to stop this would be not refunding the ticket within four hours of scheduled departure.

  22. “Many of us have at one point or another booked a refundable airline ticket for the purpose of gaining access to an airport airside. ” No. No. No. If Gallup had a poll for this (they do for everything else, so there’s always hope), I’d wager that less than 0.1% of fliers (frequent or not) do this.

  23. Two things:

    1 – If airlines put in a 4 hour rule as suggested above, there would be some very pissed of flyers upset over this. People are often enroute to the airport or even at the airport when the company calls and changes plans.

    2 – Do “some” flyers play this game? Sure there are some. Nobody here is going to be able to come up with a number and any argument about it is worthless. LOL!

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