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In all flights on commercial airlines I have done so far, associating a name with the ticket and showing an identification document at security and boarding has been mandatory, even if the flight is domestic and there are no border-crossing procedures involved.

In Europe, it is still possible to buy a long-distance train ticket anonymously and travel using it without any identity checks, depending on the country - Switzerland for instance. This type of ticket is transferable and no one knows the name of the traveler at the end.

Do any commercial flights exist that can be boarded anonymously in the same way?

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  • 1
    There are a lot of small, local airlines in underdeveloped countries, and people in underdeveloped countries generally don't have western levels of ID, so I'd guess that there are places where you don't have to show ID - I just can't prove it.
    – Peter M
    Jan 18 at 4:25
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    Also in Europe, I had some flights within the Schengen area in which I checked in online, printed my boarding pass at home, and I wasn't asked for my ID for the duration of the trip.
    – André
    Jan 18 at 6:56
  • @PeterM But can the poorer people in those countries afford to take those flights, or will they use cheaper long-distance buses (and/or ferries, depending on country) instead?
    – gerrit
    Jan 18 at 7:39
  • Probably belongs to aviation@se. Generally in the western world it is unlikely, but with private charter planes you may be able to slip someone in undetected in certain places
    – littleadv
    Jan 18 at 8:45
  • @gerrit I've seen lots of YT videos of Cessna Caravans and the ilk flying into remote and very small villages in places like Indonesia. If no one could afford the flights, then the planes wouldn't be flying.
    – Peter M
    Jan 18 at 13:52

1 Answer 1

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There are no legally mandatory id checks on domestic and international flights within the Schengen area. Based on my experience:

  • Many conventional airlines do not check passenger ids and many airports are fully automated, so that you when flying don't interact with a human being before being greated by a steward in the airplane. You check-in online, drop your bag at a self-service bag drop and even at the gate you just scan your boarding pass and go through a turnstile.

  • Most no-frill airlines check the passenger id, but in their own interest, probably to prevent black-market sales of cheap and early bought tickets.

So even if there is a name on the ticket, there is no problem getting a ticket with a dummy name and then using it.

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    As far as I am aware you can be asked for an approved ID for all those flights, so you take a risk
    – Willeke
    Jan 18 at 9:10
  • I'm not sure. I was thinking on ships, airplane and some long route buses it was mandatory to have a passenger manifest. Jan 18 at 11:03
  • @Willeke What is the basis for that assumption? E.g. Lufthansa has no provision in their T&Cs that passengers must be able to identify themselfes. They have a condition in their T&Cs that passengers must have 'travel documents necessary for entry at the point of destination' but that is at least for domestic flights of no significance and debatable if it is has relevance for intra-schengen flights. Jan 18 at 11:51
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi There must often exist a passenger manifest, but it is not necessarily required from the transport operator to verify if the details provided by the passengers are correct. On ferries in Norway where passenger manifests are required, you are usually when boarding simply writing your name on a list. Jan 18 at 11:55
  • It highly depends on (at least) the country of origin. Some like France still require ID to be checked for all passengers. They had dropped it a few months ago but that lasted only a few days before they resumed requiring it. Also, there are plenty of conventional airlines which check IDs for the same commercial reason. Whether they actually look at the ID you show them (and you) is another problem.
    – jcaron
    Jan 18 at 12:56

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