Tackling fraudulent lounge access

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Cezara Olteanu, digital marketing strategist at information technology firm IEG, discusses the impact of fraudulent lounge entry and what the company is doing to combat the issue.

Whether you are an airline, airport or private firm, providing VIP lounge services requires you to make a sizeable capital investment. Being squeezed on every side by increasing labour costs, airport leasing, and keeping the product novel while maintaining low costs are some of the challenges lounge operators must tackle. The last thing you need is a dent on your balance sheet because of fraud concerns.

Fraud affects airlines at several critical points in a customer journey. Fraudulent lounge entry prevention is not only a concern for the affected companies, but to the customers who are directly impacted.

Imagine you are on a business trip, where your single focus is on clinching that deal. You look forward to accessing the airport lounge for a final brush up on your presentation, collect your thoughts, rehearse your speech, and enjoy your favorite drink. Emotive trauma sets in when the lounge you entered is overcrowded, extremely noisy, and has standing room only.

According to IATA, ‘Security is a key component of the passenger experience in airports and a critical part of the 2020 vision. We know that passengers are unhappy with the current security experience, such as long queuing times.’

Falsification and theft of boarding passes left in the cabin to obtain first class perks are common. There is even an app that generates phony bar codes to bypass the automated scanner at lounge entry. Passengers in possession of falsified ID entering the VIP lounge are compromising the experience of customers who have earned this privilege. This is a frustrating situation for both the airlines and loyal customers. The impostors take advantage of the complementary services and run up operating costs for the lounge provider.

The intelligent fraud detection system developed by Information Engineering Group (IEG) includes a secure card recognition component that quickly validates every access document against a secure database. Where appropriate, the system can also give notice to agents by alerting them to an individual’s status. This is particularly useful when facing difficult guests.

Popular fraud schemes

Scheming individuals scout airport lounges, looking for weaknesses they can exploit. Their analysis may discover vulnerabilities during peak periods in a day, or perhaps from a keypad access to the self-service lounge. They will ultimately test the perceived flaw in your operations and publish their achievements on social media for others to imitate.

IEG’s lounge services implements and enforces these access policies, no matter what the passenger flow and without impeding access or the passenger flow. The Scan-and-go service reads the boarding passes and related access documents to ensure their authenticity, thereby preventing counterfeits or stolen documents from being erroneously validated. Our IT-based solution can authenticate the passenger’s documents with incredible accuracy.

Now, the agents will be able to identify passengers appropriately. Enforcing security will be easy with the counterfeit recognition protocols of our system, as anyone who tries to circumvent access rules and policy will be instantly blocked.

An individual cannot be in two geographic locations within the same time interval. Impersonating individuals can be spotted by leveraging IEG’s vast client database. Anomalies are isolated either on geographic locations or time parameters. Using this two-facet authentication, loyalty accounts and boarding passes with differing names are noted.

Protecting the brand identity and reputation of your business is imperative. Being able to reliably control the access policy to the lounge and ensuring that passengers have been authenticated accurately is a direct benefit to reducing operating costs, resources and time.


Cezara Olteanu is a digital marketing strategist in Montreal. After her studies at Concordia University, she joined IEG, a technology company that works with airlines and airports. She loves to visit European countries and her hometown in Fagaras, Romania. When she isn’t glued to her laptop, she enjoys Zumba, cooking, playing with her Akita dog and creating content for social media.

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