Cockpit Codes Accidentally Revealed — But Access Was Never an Issue

May 16, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United’s back in the news. And — again — the news isn’t good. But it isn’t the disaster many are making it out to be, either.

To make a long story short, a flight attendant accidentally shared codes that crew members use to request access to the cockpit on select Airbus planes. According to a WSJ report, “a flight attendant mistakenly posted information that included access codes on a public website.” While this can surely be considered “sensitive” information that clearly should not have become public, the “access” code in question doesn’t actually give an unauthorized person access to the cockpit. Instead, it sounds a chime alerting the pilots that someone would like them to open the door.

While it’s essentially a doorbell, you can also think of it as a secret handshake of sorts — in theory, anyone with the code would be eligible for access to the cockpit, but a crew member would only open the door after verifying the identity of the person asking to come in, and checking to make sure that the coast is clear using an overhead cabin camera or cockpit door peephole.

United did confirm the leak, but also clarified that the code alone will not grant access to the cockpit:

We have learned that some cockpit door access information may have been made public. The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority and United utilizes a number of measures to keep our flight decks secure beyond door access information. In the interim this protocol ensures our cockpits remain secure. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

United reportedly alerted crew members once it discovered the breach on Saturday. So, were any of us ever at risk here? That’s difficult to say — if a pilot had been reckless and had simply opened the door without checking to see who was trying to get in, a passenger could theoretically have made their way to the flight deck. But considering all the training crew members go through, especially when it comes to cockpit access procedures, that’s a very unlikely scenario — code or no code.

Featured image by ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.