The seat covers of EasyJet airplanes bear symbols that look like a pigpen cipher. Do they encode a secret message?

Readers of my (German) steganography book Versteckte Botschaften may know the following story. In the 1980s, Coca Cola launched a marketing campaign in Australia that advertised a new bottle design. As can be seen on the following picture, the designer of one of the print advertisements hid a picture within the picture he created (to see it, look at the icecube in the center of the enlarged image excerpt):


After this hidden picture had been discovered, the graphic designer lost his job.

For a similar reason, James May, presenter on the BBC program Top Gear, was fired from the magazine Autocar. May spelled out a message using the large red initial at the beginning of each review he published in the Road Test Yearbook of 1992:


Source: Road Test Yearbook

The message reads: “So you think it’s really good? Yeah, you should try making the bloody thing up. It’s a real pain in the arse.”


The EasyJet code

When I recently traveled in an airplane operated by low-cost airline EasyJet, I asked myself whether I had discovered another hidden message – and whether the creator of it will be fired, too. This potential hidden message can be seen on the seat covers:


Here’s a closer shot:


It is quite obvious that the symbols on the seat covers look like a pigpen cipher.

There are many variants of the pigpen cipher. The most popular one is based on a diagram like the following:


The pigpen variant potentially used on the EasyJet seats is based on an alphabet consisting of 36 letters. Here’s a transcription table:


The following segment …


… is transcribed as follows:

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

There is also the possibility that the second and the third line in the transcription table are identified, which would mean that we have an alphabet consisting of 27 letters.


A code or not a code?

The main question is now, of course, whether these symbols really encode a message or if they are meaningless.

So far, I haven’t found a pattern in the symbol sequences. This means that either a relatively complex rule has been used to generate them or that they have a meaning (for instance, they might encode a message) or that they have been chosen at random.

As a crypto expert, I hope that the hidden message hypothesis is the correct one, but as a skeptic I am careful with things like these. I certainly don’t want to create a successor of the Bible code. But who knows, perhaps there is a worldwide airline conspiration, the manifesto of which is hidden on airplane seat covers. More unlikely conspiration theories than this one are known to exist.

Can a reader say more about this aviation mystery? If so, please leave a comment.

Further reading: Ten peculiar uses of the pigpen cipher


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Kommentare (10)

  1. #1 haarigertroll
    12. Juni 2019
  2. #2 Peter Lichtenberger
    Im Schwitzkasten
    12. Juni 2019

    Definitiv keine Botschaft. Sucht Euch am besten zwei gleiche Zeichen, die auffällig sind & dann die gleichen Zeichen nochmals und dann seht euch die Zeichen rundum an. Sie wiederholen sich ständig.

  3. #3 Ney...
    12. Juni 2019

    This is a good conspiracy theory fuel

  4. #4 Kaligule
    13. Juni 2019

    Ich sehe kein Bild in dem Eiswürfel. Oder ist wirklich nur der wage fallusförmige braune Fleck gemeint?
    Dafür jemanden rauszhwerfen wäre schon sehr pingelig.

  5. #5 Hias
    13. Juni 2019

    Soweit ich das erkenne wiederholen sich in einer Zeile 12 Symbole und es sind 3 verschiedene Zeilen. Danach wiederholen sich die drei Zeilen um 6 Zeichen versetzt. Das Muster auf der Sitzrückseite ist zur Vorderseite um 180 Grad gedreht.
    Es scheinen 17 verschiedene Zeichen zu sein (ohne Gewähr da leider nicht gut zu erkennen), in unterschiedlicher Häufigkeit.
    Aber ob sich daraus ein Text generieren lässt?

  6. #6 Klaus Schmeh
    14. Juni 2019

    Gert Brantner via Facebook:
    .. and I stupidly stared at these something around 142 times over the past 2 years, if I did not manage to concentrate on my saved “Klausi’s” articles? I will really pay attention, in a few days..

  7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
    14. Juni 2019

    >Oder ist wirklich nur der wage
    >fallusförmige braune Fleck gemeint?
    Und das Gesicht mit offenem Mund darüber.

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    24. Juni 2019

    Joe Tag via Twitter:
    My guess it’s either the airline name, or designer name, with a mono-alphabetic cipher, based on Masonic cipher.

  9. #9 Marc
    25. Juni 2019

    Das ist eine unterschwellige Botschaft:
    Trinken sie mehr Tomatensaft!

  10. #10 Anne
    17. April 2022

    Da passt doch der alte Witz ganz gut: