Being confident: How I could have gotten into the IFA for free

This won't be a technical blogpost, but rather a description of my tiny social engineering experience I gathered when I decided to enter the IFA exhibition for free.

IFA is a yearly exhibition of new consumer electronics in Berlin. Be it smart phones/TVs/fridges/homes/cars or even toothbrushes, you can find most new inventions and innovations at IFA.

Two friends of mine spontaneously decided to visit this exhibition and asked me to come with them. I agreed, so we met on the 4th of september in front of the ticket desk. We all bought reduced student tickets, 13€ each.

IFA ticket and fillet

Along with the ticket we got a fillet where business or important people could attach their badge to.
On the way to the entrance we found a lot of those fillets lying on the ground, because you might not want to become a moving advert, but it became handy for my plan later on.

As we were standing in the entrance queue - friend A, me, friend B - I decided to see if I can get into the IFA without showing my ticket. I put my ticket into my pocket and thought that I could imitate having a badge and just passing the friendly ticket inspector.
My plan was to hold my fillet up like this:

Me holding my fillet up

Not the best picture - but I kept my hand flat, so that it looks like there might be a badge behind it.

The queue became shorter and eventually friend A showed his ticket and the ticket inspector scanned the barcode on it. During those 10 seconds, I had already raised my hand and kept moving forward to create the impression that I'm in a hurry.

Finally, my friend went ahead and I didn't hesitate to follow him, keeping my fillet raised and making short eye contact with the inspector.

In my mind I was like:

Ok, ok, she'll stop you and ask for your ticket right NOW... Prepare to tell her, that this was just a joke and that you have a valid ticket...

But to my own surprise nothing like that happened. Instead, she nodded and said Ok. It took me a split second to realise what happened, but I instructed my body to just keep going forward before, so she might not have noticed me being surprised or excited.

I catched up with my friend A ten meters further and we had a great laugh after I told him what just happened.

I'm not sure if you can really call that social engineering or if I was just lucky, but obviously it worked by:

  • Having a clear goal to achieve
  • Having some mental and physical preparation
  • Being confident and acting like everything is normal/correct

To be fair, I didn't sell or reuse my ticket, so no damage done. Nevetheless it was a fun experience.