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I was travelling from Johannesburg to Paris on EgyptAir recently and at check-in in Johannesburg was subjected to a barrage of questions about where I lived, what I was doing in France and how long I had lived there and my documents were inspected by three different people. The most intriguing question of all was when they asked me if I was travelling with X who I was indeed travelling with. X was also asked if he was travelling with me and was asked to point me out at his check-in counter.

How did the airline know we were travelling together as we had bought our plane tickets separately, using different credit cards and different computers from different locations? The only thing that I can think of is that we bought the tickets at about the same time (talking over the phone) and chose adjoining seats on all our flights but is this really used to link travelers? And is this linked to the intense questioning we received?

  • Next time, book at different times and book different seats? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 24 '17 at 12:56
  • Were you in a middle or otherwise less desirable seat? – Johns-305 Jan 24 '17 at 15:21
  • I was by an aisle seat by the side of the plane. X had a window seat next to me. – Galaxy Jan 24 '17 at 16:34
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There could be multiple ways for them to track you down :

  1. The fact that you have booked at the same time.
  2. The fact that you have booked adjoining seats.
  3. Previous bookings. If you had booked together in the past.
  4. Was this flight operated by EgyptAir or by another company with a codeshare? If it was operated by another company, maybe you were the only ones using this codeshare with EgyptAir.
  5. Details on your passport. Maybe you have some details in common (place of birth, area where you live, etc...).

The intense questioning you have received might or might not be related to that. No one will be able to tell you for sure. Maybe if you had booked together, you wouldn't have had this intense questioning. Only the people who questioned you know the exact reasons why you were checked. Everything else will just be speculation. Checks critera aren't disclosed publicly.

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