The doppelgänger effect

Yesterday was a travel day, coming home from a week in Breckenridge, CO for a work sprint. These are usually uneventful days, riding trains or shuttles to and from airports. Yesterday was different, though. Yesterday, I ran into my doppelgänger.

The first indication that something was off was when I checked my bag curbside. The porter asked me if I’d already checked a bag. I said no, and he gestured me to come around the counter and see what he was seeing. Sure enough, there was my name, showing one back checked.

I assumed it was because I’d checked-in online and paid the baggage fee, and said as much. We figured it was just some kind of oddity and carried on.

Grabbing a bite to eat inside the terminal, I noticed the second oddity. The boarding pass the porter handed me listed seat 6C, but the Delta app showed me in seat 18F. I thought maybe it was just a lag in my information being updated since arriving at the airport, but no. The app updated to show my gate information, but I was still in 18F.

At this point, I was pretty convinced that, despite the odds, there was another Adam Israel was on the flight; I had his bordering pass and he had my luggage.

Fast forward a couple hours (because we were there way early), I talk to the agent at the gate. She becomes apologetic very quickly, mentioning that this happened to her with a passenger last week as well, and confirms that I did have the wrong bordering pass. She makes sure that the other me’s final destination is the same as mine, and it is, so no luggage juggling has to be done.

Here’s the thing: I cleared security with someone else’s boarding pass. I had identification with my photo on it, but the boarding pass I presented wasn’t mine. Think about that. It’s a potentially serious lapse in security.

Everything worked out fine in the end. I saw (but didn’t get a chance to talk to) another Adam Israel. I got my luggage, and even caught a shuttle home three hours earlier than scheduled. I can’t help but wonder, though, what could happen if someone not as honest, with not so good intentions, could clear security at an airport simply by sharing a name with another passenger.

Adam Israel
Author ꞏ Genealogist ꞏ Software Engineer

My interests include genealogy, cloud computing, and all things open source.

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