The seat covers in EasyJet airplanes bear symbols that look like pigpen letters. Blog reader Matthias Axinger has provided me an interesting analysis of these glyphs.

When in June last year I traveled in an airplane operated by the low-cost airline EasyJet, I realized that the pattern on the seat covers looked like an encrypted message:

Source: Schmeh

It can’t be denied that the pattern elements on these covers resemble letters from a pigpen-cipher variant. In its most popular form, the pigpen cipher (also known as Freemason’s cipher) is defined with the following diagram:

Source: Schmeh

The pigpen cipher – a very old and widespread crypto technique – can be varied in many ways. For instance, the order of the letters in the said diagram can be changed. Among many other messages, the text on the Freemason tombstone in Manhattan I visited two weeks ago is encrypted in a pigpen variant (the plaintext is: REMEMBER DEATH).

Source: Schmeh

 

The EasyJet pigpen

At first, I thought that the pigpen variant potentially used on the EasyJet seats is based on an alphabet consisting of 36 letters. Here’s the transcription table I introduced in my blog post last year:

Source: Schmeh

With this table, the following segment …

Source: Schmeh

… is transcribed like this:

A 0 9 0 5 P C 0 I P
R I S A R 0 I J L A
P 5 U J G W L 5 0 A

The main question I asked in my post was whether these symbols really encode a message or if they are meaningless. As a skeptic, I am careful with claims like these; after all, I don’t want to create a successor of the Bible code. However, as a crypto enthusiast, I hope that the encrypted message hypothesis is the correct one. Most of the commenters on my blog were on the skeptical side.

 

Matthias Axinger’s analysis

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from blog reader Matthias Axinger. He told me that he had taken a close look at the EasyJet code and that he had found a few arguments that confirm the coded message hypothesis.

First, Matthias suggested a different transcription table, based on the fact that the ciphertext (i.e., the pattern on the seat covers) doesn’t contain pigpen letters consisting of three lines:

Source: Axinger

This means that instead of 36 letters we have only 25 – an alphabet perfectly suited to encode a message. Next, Matthias tried to eliminate repetitions in the cryptogram. For this purpose, he wrote the transcribed letters directly on the ciphertext:

Source: Axinger

Here’s a similar transcript on another photograph:

Source: Axinger

Apparently, the glyph pattern on the seats can be generated by repeating the following 36 letters in all directions:

KWDVCQKYUBXT
AVSUCYXAQVCS
QCAVRAQDRKQL

As an alternative, 6×6 blocks can be used:

KWDVCQ
AVSUCY
QCAVRA
KYUBXT
XAQVCS
QDRKQL

3×12 and 2×24 blocks would be possible as well, but unlikely in my view.

Even if we focus on 12×3 and 6×6 blocks, things are far from trivial, as we don’t know in which line and which column the ciphertext starts. Matthias has calculated that there are 216 possibilities, including backwards and bottom-up variants:

001 SCVQAX TXBUYK ARVACQ YCUSVA QCVDWK LQKRDQ
002 CVQAXY XBUYKQ RVACQL CUSVAS CVDWKT QKRDQA
003 VQAXYC BUYKQC VACQLQ USVASC VDWKTX KRDQAR
004 QAXYCU UYKQCV ACQLQK SVASCV DWKTXB RDQARV
005 AXYCUS YKQCVD CQLQKR VASCVQ WKTXBU DQARVA
006 XYCUSV KQCVDW QLQKRD ASCVQA KTXBUY QARVAC
007 TXBUYK ARVACQ YCUSVA QCVDWK LQKRDQ SCVQAX
008 XBUYKQ RVACQL CUSVAS CVDWKT QKRDQA CVQAXY
009 BUYKQC VACQLQ USVASC VDWKTX KRDQAR VQAXYC
010 UYKQCV ACQLQK SVASCV DWKTXB RDQARV QAXYCU
011 YKQCVD CQLQKR VASCVQ WKTXBU DQARVA AXYCUS
012 KQCVDW QLQKRD ASCVQA KTXBUY QARVAC XYCUSV
013 ARVACQ YCUSVA QCVDWK LQKRDQ SCVQAX TXBUYK
014 RVACQL CUSVAS CVDWKT QKRDQA CVQAXY XBUYKQ
015 VACQLQ USVASC VDWKTX KRDQAR VQAXYC BUYKQC
016 ACQLQK SVASCV DWKTXB RDQARV QAXYCU UYKQCV
017 CQLQKR VASCVQ WKTXBU DQARVA AXYCUS YKQCVD
018 QLQKRD ASCVQA KTXBUY QARVAC XYCUSV KQCVDW
019 YCUSVA QCVDWK LQKRDQ SCVQAX TXBUYK ARVACQ
020 CUSVAS CVDWKT QKRDQA CVQAXY XBUYKQ RVACQL
021 USVASC VDWKTX KRDQAR VQAXYC BUYKQC VACQLQ
022 SVASCV DWKTXB RDQARV QAXYCU UYKQCV ACQLQK
023 VASCVQ WKTXBU DQARVA AXYCUS YKQCVD CQLQKR
024 ASCVQA KTXBUY QARVAC XYCUSV KQCVDW QLQKRD
025 QCVDWK LQKRDQ SCVQAX TXBUYK ARVACQ YCUSVA
026 CVDWKT QKRDQA CVQAXY XBUYKQ RVACQL CUSVAS
027 VDWKTX KRDQAR VQAXYC BUYKQC VACQLQ USVASC
028 DWKTXB RDQARV QAXYCU UYKQCV ACQLQK SVASCV
029 WKTXBU DQARVA AXYCUS YKQCVD CQLQKR VASCVQ
030 KTXBUY QARVAC XYCUSV KQCVDW QLQKRD ASCVQA
031 LQKRDQ SCVQAX TXBUYK ARVACQ YCUSVA QCVDWK
032 QKRDQA CVQAXY XBUYKQ RVACQL CUSVAS CVDWKT
033 KRDQAR VQAXYC BUYKQC VACQLQ USVASC VDWKTX
034 RDQARV QAXYCU UYKQCV ACQLQK SVASCV DWKTXB
035 DQARVA AXYCUS YKQCVD CQLQKR VASCVQ WKTXBU
036 QARVAC XYCUSV KQCVDW QLQKRD ASCVQA KTXBUY
037 STAYQL AKQXKQ VWDAYC SDRQUA UVKVBV CCQCXR
038 TAYQLS KQXKQA WDAYCV DRQUAS VKVBVU CQCXRC
039 AYQLST QXKQAK DAYCVW RQUASD KVBVUV QCXRCC
040 YQLSTA XKQAKQ AYCVWD QUASDR VBVUVK CXRCCQ
041 QLSTAY KQAKQX YCVWDA UASDRQ BVUVKV XRCCQC
042 LSTAYQ QAKQXK CVWDAY ASDRQU VUVKVB RCCQCX
043 AKQXKQ VWDAYC SDRQUA UVKVBV CCQCXR YQLSTA
044 KQXKQA WDAYCV DRQUAS VKVBVU CQCXRC QLSTAY
045 QXKQAK DAYCVW RQUASD KVBVUV QCXRCC LSTAYQ
046 XKQAKQ AYCVWD QUASDR VBVUVK CXRCCQ STAYQL
047 KQAKQX YCVWDA UASDRQ BVUVKV XRCCQC TAYQLS
048 QAKQXK CVWDAY ASDRQU VUVKVB RCCQCX AYQLST
049 VWDAYC SDRQUA UVKVBV CCQCXR YQLSTA XKQAKQ
050 WDAYCV DRQUAS VKVBVU CQCXRC QLSTAY KQAKQX
051 DAYCVW RQUASD KVBVUV QCXRCC LSTAYQ QAKQXK
052 AYCVWD QUASDR VBVUVK CXRCCQ STAYQL AKQXKQ
053 YCVWDA UASDRQ BVUVKV XRCCQC TAYQLS KQXKQA
054 CVWDAY ASDRQU VUVKVB RCCQCX AYQLST QXKGAK
055 SDRQUA UVKVBV CCQCXR YQLSTA XKQAKQ AYCVWD
056 DRQUAS VKVBVU CQCXRC QLSTAY KQAKQX YCVWDA
057 RQUASD KVBVUV QCXRCC LSTAYQ QAKQXK CVWDAY
058 QUASDR VBVUVK CXRCCQ STAYQL AKQXKQ VWDAYC
059 UASDRQ BVUVKV XRCCQC TAYQLS KQXKQA WDAYCV
060 ASDRQU VUVKVB RCCQCX AYQLST QXKGAK DAYCVW
061 UVKVBV CCQCXR YQLSTA XKQAKQ AYCVWD QUASDR
062 VKVBVU CQCXRC QLSTAY KQAKQX YCVWDA UASDRQ
063 KVBVUV QCXRCC LSTAYQ QAKQXK CVWDAY ASDRQU
064 VBVUVK CXRCCQ STAYQL AKQXKQ VWDAYC SDRQUA
065 BVUVKV XRCCQC TAYQLS KQXKQA WDAYCV DRQUAS
066 VUVKVB RCCQCX AYQLST QXKGAK DAYCVW RQUASD
067 CCQCXR YQLSTA XKQAKQ AYCVWD QUASDR VBVUVK
068 CQCXRC QLSTAY KQAKQX YCVWDA UASDRQ BVUVKV
069 QCXRCC LSTAYQ QAKQXK CVWDAY ASDRQU VUVKVB
070 CXRCCQ STAYQL AKQXKQ VWDAYC SDRQUA UVKVBV
071 XRCCQC TAYQLS KQXKQA WDAYCV DRQUAS VKVBVU
072 RCCQCX AYQLST QXKGAK DAYCVW RQUASD KVBVUV
073 SAVSUC LQCAVR QKYUBX YXAQVC AQDRKQ TKWDVC
074 AVSUCY QCAVRA KYUBXT XAQVCS QDRKQL KWDVCQ
075 VSUCYX CAVRAQ YUBXTK AQVCSA DRKQLQ WDVCQK
076 SUCYXA AVRAQD UBXTKW QVCSAV RKQLQC DVCQKY
077 UCYXAQ VRAQDR BXTKWD VCSAVS KQLQCA VCQKYU
078 CYXAQV RAQDRK XTKWDV CSAVSU QLQCAV CQKYUB
079 LQCAVR QKYUBX YXAQVC AQDRKQ TKWDVC SAVSUC
080 QCAVRA KYUBXT XAQVCS QDRKQL KWDVCQ AVSUCY
081 CAVRAQ YUBXTK AQVCSA DRKQLQ WDVCQK VSUCYX
082 AVRAQD UBXTKW QVCSAV RKQLQC DVCQKY SUCYXA
083 VRAQDR BXTKWD VCSAVS KQLQCA VCQKYU UCYXAQ
084 RAQDRK XTKWDV CSAVSU QLQCAV CQKYUB CYXAQV
085 QKYUBX YXAQVC AQDRKQ TKWDVC SAVSUC LQCAVR
086 KYUBXT XAQVCS QDRKQL KWDVCQ AVSUCY QCAVRA
087 YUBXTK AQVCSA DRKQLQ WDVCQK VSUCYX CAVRAQ
088 UBXTKW QVCSAV RKQLQC DVCQKY SUCYXA AVRAQD
089 BXTKWD VCSAVS KQLQCA VCQKYU UCYXAQ VRAQDR
090 XTKWDV CSAVSU QLQCAV CQKYUB CYXAQV RAQDRK
091 YXAQVC AQDRKQ TKWDVC SAVSUC LQCAVR QKYUBX
092 XAQVCS QDRKQL KWDVCQ AVSUCY QCAVRA KYUBXT
093 AQVCSA DRKQLQ WDVCQK VSUCYX CAVRAQ YUBXTK
094 QVCSAV RKQLQC DVCQKY SUCYXA AVRAQD UBXTKW
095 VCSAVS KQLQCA VCQKYU UCYXAQ VRAQDR BXTKWD
096 CSAVSU QLQCAV CQKYUB CYXAQV RAQDRK XTKWDV
097 AQDRKQ TKWDVC SAVSUC LQCAVR QKYUBX YXAQVC
098 QDRKQL KWDVCQ AVSUCY QCAVRA KYUBXT XAQVCS
099 DRKQLQ WDVCQK VSUCYX CAVRAQ YUBXTK AQVCSA
100 RKQLQC DVCQKY SUCYXA AVRAQD UBXTKW QVCSAV
101 KQLQCA VCQKYU UCYXAQ VRAQDR BXTKWD VCSAVS
102 QLQCAV CQKYUB CYXAQV RAQDRK XTKWDV CSAVSU
103 TKWDVC SAVSUC LQCAVR QKYUBX YXAQVC AQDRKQ
104 KWDVCQ AVSUCY QCAVRA KYUBXT XAQVCS QDRKQL
105 WDVCQK VSUCYX CAVRAQ YUBXTK AQVCSA DRKQLQ
106 DVCQKY SUCYXA AVRAQD UBXTKW QVCSAV RKQLQC
107 VCQKYU UCYXAQ VRAQDR BXTKWD VCSAVS KQLQCA
108 CQKYUB CYXAQV RAQDRK XTKWDV CSAVSU QLQCAV
109 SLQYAT CQCCRX VKVUVB QRDSAU ADWVCY XQKAQK
110 LQYATS QCCRXC KVUVBV RDSAUQ DWVCYA QKAQKX
111 QYATSL CCRXCQ VUVBVK DSAUQR WVCYAD KAQKXQ
112 YATSLQ CRXCQC UVBVKV SAUQRD VCYADW AQKXQK
113 ATSLQY RXCQCC VBVKVU AUQRDS CYADWV QKXQKA
114 TSLQYA XCQCCR BVKVUV UQRDSA YADWVC KXQKAQ
115 CQCCRX VKVUVB QRDSAU ADWVCY XQKAQK SLQYAT
116 QCCRXC KVUVBV RDSAUQ DWVCYA QKAQKX LQYATS
117 CCRXCQ VUVBVK DSAUQR WVCYAD KAQKXQ QYATSL
118 CRXCQC UVBVKV SAUQRD VCYADW AQKXQK YATSLQ
119 RXCQCC VBVKVU AUQRDS CYADWV QKXQKA ATSLQY
120 XCQCCR BVKVUV UQRDSA YADWVC KXQKAQ TSLQYA
121 VKVUVB QRDSAU ADWVCY XQKAQK SLQYAT CQCCRX
122 KVUVBV RDSAUQ DWVCYA QKAQKX LQYATS QCCRXC
123 VUVBVK DSAUQR WVCYAD KAQKXQ QYATSL CCRXCQ
124 UVBVKV SAUQRD VCYADW AQKXQK YATSLQ CRXCQC
125 VBVKVU AUQRDS CYADWV QKXQKA ATSLQY RXCQCC
126 BVKVUV UQRDSA YADWVC KXQKAQ TSLQYA XCQCCR
127 QRDSAU ADWVCY XQKAQK SLQYAT CQCCRX VKVUVB
128 RDSAUQ DWVCYA QKAQKX LQYATS QCCRXC KVUVBV
129 DSAUQR WVCYAD KAQKXQ QYATSL CCRXCQ VUVBVK
130 SAUQRD VCYADW AQKXQK YATSLQ CRXCQC UVBVKV
131 AUQRDS CYADWV QKXQKA ATSLQY RXCQCC VBVKVU
132 UQRDSA YADWVC KXQKAQ TSLQYA XCQCCR BVKVUV
133 ADWVCY XQKAQK SLQYAT CQCCRX VKVUVB QRDSAU
134 DWVCYA QKAQKX LQYATS QCCRXC KVUVBV RDSAUQ
135 WVCYAD KAQKXQ QYATSL CCRXCQ VUVBVK DSAUQR
136 VCYADW AQKXQK YATSLQ CRXCQC UVBVKV SAUQRD
137 CYADWV QKXQKA ATSLQY RXCQCC VBVKVU AUQRDS
138 YADWVC KXQKAQ TSLQYA XCQCCR BVKVUV UQRDSA
139 XQKAQK SLQYAT CQCCRX VKVUVB QRDSAU ADWVCY
140 QKAQKX LQYATS QCCRXC KVUVBV RDSAUQ DWVCYA
141 KAQKXQ QYATSL CCRXCQ VUVBVK DSAUQR WVCYAD
142 AQKXQK YATSLQ CRXCQC UVBVKV SAUQRD VCYADW
143 QKXQKA ATSLQY RXCQCC VBVKVU AUQRDS CYADWV
144 KXQKAQ TSLQYA XCQCCR BVKVUV UQRDSA YADWVC
145 SCVQAX YCUSVA TXBUYK QCVDWK ARVACQ LQKRDQ
146 CVQAXY CUSVAS XBUYKQ CVDWKT RVACQL QKRDQA
147 VQAXYC USVASC BUYKQC VDWKTX VACQLQ KRDQAR
148 QAXYCU SVASCV UYKQCV DWKTXB ACQLQR RDQARV
149 AXYCUS VASCVQ YKQCVD WKTXBU CQLQKR DQARVA
150 XYCUSV ASCVQA KQCVDW KTXBUY QLQKRD QARVAC
151 YCUSVA SCVQAX QCVDWK TXBUYK LQKRDQ ARVACQ
152 CUSVAS CVQAXY CVDWKT XBUYKQ QKRDQA RVACQL
153 USVASC VQAXYC VDWKTX BUYKQC KRDQAR VACQLQ
154 SVASCV QAXYCU DWKTXB UYKQCV RDQARV ACQLQK
155 VASCVQ AXYCUS WKTXBU YKQCVD DQARVA CQLQKR
156 ASCVQA XYCUSV KTXBUY KQCVDW QARVAC QLQKRD
157 TXBUYK QCVDWK ARVACQ LQKRDQ YCUSVA SCVQAX
158 XBUYKQ CVDWKT RVACQL QKRDQA CUSVAS CVQAXY
159 BUYKQC VDWKTX VACQLQ KRDQAR USVASC VQAXYC
160 UYKQCV DWKTXB ACQLQR RDQARV SVASCV QAXYCU
161 YKQCVD WKTXBU CQLQKR DQARVA VASCVQ AXYCUS
162 KQCVDW KTXBUY QLQKRD QARVAC ASCVQA XYCUSV
163 QCVDWK TXBUYK LQKRDQ ARVACQ SCVQAX YCUSVA
164 CVDWKT XBUYKQ QKRDQA RVACQL CVQAXY CUSVAS
165 VDWKTX BUYKQC KRDQAR VACQLQ VQAXYC USVASC
166 DWKTXB UYKQCV RDQARV ACQLQK QAXYCU SVASCV
167 WKTXBU YKQCVD DQARVA CQLQKR AXYCUS VASCVQ
168 KTXBUY KQCVDW QARVAC QLQKRD XYCUSV ASCVQA
169 ARVACQ LQKRDQ YCUSVA SCVQAX QCVDWK TXBUYK
170 RVACQL QKRDGA CUSVAS CVQAXY CVDWKT XBUYKQ
171 VACQLQ KRDQAR USVASC VQAXYC VDWKTX BUYKQC
172 ACQLQK RDQARV SVASCV QAXYCU DWKTXB UYKQCV
173 CQLQKR DQARVA VASCVQ AXYCUS WKTXBU YKQCVD
174 QLQKRD QARVAC ASCVQA XYCUSV KTXBUY KQCVDW
175 LQKRDQ ARVACQ SCVQAX YCUSVA TXBUYK QCVDWK
176 QKRDQA RVACQL CVQAXY CUSVAS XBUYKQ CVDWKT
177 KRDQAR VACQLQ VQAXYC USVASC BUYKQC VDWKTX
178 RDQARV ACQLQK QAXYCU SVASCV UYKQCV DWKTXB
179 DQARVA CQLQKR AXYCUS VASCVQ YKQCVD WKTXBU
180 QARVAC QLQKRD XYCUSV ASCVQA KQCVDW KTXBUY
181 SAVSUC YXAQVC LQCAVR AQDRKQ QKYUBX TKWDVC
182 AVSUCY XAQVCS QCAVRA QDRKQL KYUBXT KWDVCQ
183 VSUCYX AQVCSA CAVRAQ DRKQLQ YUBXTK WDVCQK
184 SUCYXA QVCSAV AVRAQD RKQLQC UBXTKW DVCQKY
185 UCYXAQ VCSAVS VRAQDR KQLQCA BXTKWD VCQKYU
186 CYXAQV CSAVSU RAQDRK QLQCAV XTKWDV CQKYUB
187 YXAQVC SAVSUC AQDRKQ LQCAVR TKWDVC QKYUBX
188 XAQVCS AVSUCY QDRKQL QCAVRA KWDVCQ KYUBXT
189 AQVCSA VSUCYX DRKQLQ CAVRAQ WDVCQK YUBXTK
190 QVCSAV SUCYXA RKQLQC AVRAQD DVCQKY UBXTKW
191 VCSAVS UCYXAQ KQLQCA VRAQDR VCQKYU BXTKWD
192 CSAVSU CYXAQV QLQCAV RAQDRK CQKYUB XTKWDV
193 LQCAVR AQDRKQ QKYUBX TKWDVC YXAQVC SAVSUC
194 QCAVRA QDRKQL KYUBXT KWDVCQ XAQVCS AVSUCY
195 CAVRAQ DRKQLQ YUBXTK WDVCQK AQVCSA VSUCYX
196 AVRAQD RKQLQC UBXTKW DVCQKY QVCSAV SUCYXA
197 VRAQDR KQLQCA BXTKWD VCQKYU VCSAVS UCYXAQ
198 RAQDRK QLQCAV XTKWDV CQKYUB CSAVSU CYXAQV
199 AQDRKQ LQCAVR TKWDVC QKYUBX SAVSUC YXAQVC
200 QDRKQL QCAVRA KWDVCQ KYUBXT AVSUCY XAQVCS
201 DRKQLQ CAVRAQ WDVCQK YUBXTK VSUCYX AQVCSA
202 RKQLQC AVRAQD DVCQKY UBXTKW SUCYXA QVCSAV
203 KQLQCA VRAAQD VCQKYU BXTKWD UCYXAQ VCSAVS
204 QLQCAV RAQDRK CQKYUB XTKWDV CYXAQV CSAVSU
205 QKYUBX TKWDVC YXAQVC SAVSUC AQDRKQ LQCAVR
206 KYUBXT KWDVCQ XAQVCS AVSUCY QDRKQL QCAVRA
207 YUBXTK WDVCQK AQVCSA VSUCYX DRKQLQ CAVRAQ
208 UBXTKW DVCQKY QVCSAV SUCYXA RKQLQC AVRAQD
209 BXTKWD VCQKYU VCSAVS UCYXAQ KQLQCA VRAQDR
210 XTKWDV CQKYUB CSAVSU CYXAQV QLQCAV RAQDRK
211 TKWDVC QKYUBX SAVSUC YXAQVC LQCAVR AQDRKQ
212 KWDVCQ KYUBXT AVSUCY XAQVCS QCAVRA QDRKQL
213 WDVCQK YUBXTK VSUCYX AQVCSA CAVRAQ DRKQLQ
214 DVCQKY UBXTKW SUCYXA QVCSAV AVRAQD RKQLQC
215 VCQKYU BXTKWD UCYXAQ VCSAVS VRAQDR KQLQCA
216 CQKYUB XTKWDV CYXAQV CSAVSU RAQDRK QLQCAV

The next step would be to feed all 216 variants to a MASC hill climber or a similar tool. If one of the combinations deciphers to a meaningful text, the mystery is solved. Other wise, the search will go on.


Further reading: Ten peculiar uses of the pigpen cipher

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Kommentare (4)

  1. #1 BREAKER
    13. März 2020

    Best I can see is that the text is ran through a Vigenere with the key being YIIN to get:

    MOVIE IS IUMULSU SITS CLW TP GZ SIIEK IQ TCIY
    MOVIE IS SIMULUS SITS CLEW TOP GAZE I SEEK IQ CITY

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    14. März 2020

    Mak Ro via Facebook:
    Why in the world would someone do that? haha

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    14. März 2020

    Nils Kopal:
    Because they can 🙂

  4. #4 Dampier
    14. März 2020

    Why in the world would someone do that?

    As a graphic designer I know the temptation to hide something personal like a code, e.g. if I had to design a pattern for a textile fabric.

    Sometimes I hid acrostics in dummy text 🙂