Fingerprinting yet another hurdle for airline passengers

In yet another attempt to profile terrorists, travelers booking their flights online may now be required to provide fingerprints for identity confirmation purposes. This could deal yet another blow to the already ailing airline business while infringing on customers’ freedoms yet again.

When certain flights are booked, for example flights to international destinations, passport numbers, credit card security numbers and even accounts with passwords are often required in order to secure the ticket. Once a passenger’s name has been added to a flight list, it is compared with the “No Fly” list for any matches, which was started to stop suspected terrorists from boarding planes.

Philip Baum, aviation security analyst and editor for the magazine Aviation Security International, expressed his lack of faith in the list to Reuters. “It raises the whole question of whether or not you should be using (name) matches (…) you could almost find a name match on every single flight.”

In the past, name matches have led to flight cancellations only to later turn out as false alarms. In one instance the suspected terrorist turned out to be a child.

While the proposal of matching citizen fingerprints to those of terrorists could work in theory, the airline business can’t really afford to have any more financial setbacks.

According to Reuters, two of Europe’s larger airlines that offer basic run-of-the-mill flights, Ryanair and easyJet, make a majority of their bookings online. Technology consultant Jupiter Research told Reuters that online booking is predicted to rise to over 11 percent in Europe alone by 2008.

“If you start tampering with that, there’s a whole section of air travel that’s going to fall by the wayside,” William Gaillard, spokesman for International Air Transport Association, a Geneva based airline trade association, told Reuters.

The analysts predicting this new inconvenience also anticipate that fingerprints will be taken from passengers for identity purposes before boarding a flight.

According to The Washington Post, the U.S. government is planning on assigning security rankings to any visitor that is foreign to U.S. soil upon entering the country.

In the United States, individuals are considered innocent until proven otherwise. But when the government starts placing every citizen in the suspect’s seat, this underlying rule of our society does not apply anymore.