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New Tech Helps United Combat Fraudulent Lounge Entry

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Remember the story of the man who spent two weeks in jail after 18 days of unauthorized lounge hopping in Singapore? That’s not an isolated incident — many people try to enter airport lounges using fraudulent credentials, from Photoshopped boarding passes to award flights booked before entry and canceled once inside. Airlines have been using new software to crack down on this practice, though, and United’s now on board, too.

The software is called AIMS. On the surface, it’s designed to enhance a customer’s experience by improving the lounge check-in process. However it also uses undisclosed technology to identify passengers that game the system by using fake boarding passes (which shouldn’t work), or those who purchase a plane ticket just to access the lounge, only to cancel it for a refund once they’re inside. It’s not clear how AIMS identifies these passengers, but a representative I chatted with insisted that it’s possible.

Some of the other airlines using AIMS technology.
Some of the other airlines using AIMS technology.

The news here is that United’s just starting to roll out this functionality, starting with the new O’Hare Polaris Lounge that opens tomorrow morning. It may be tempting to book and cancel a flight to check out the Polaris ground experience — at best, you’ll get booted from the lounge (and probably the airport), but the airline could also choose to take other (more severe) action as well. So, let this be your warning: United is using AIMS to analyze lounge traffic, and if you’re planning to sneak in to check out the Polaris Lounge, you could end up in quite a bit of trouble.

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