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In A Scandal in Belgravia Irene Adler shows the following text to Sherlock

007 Confirmed allocation
4C12C45F13E13G60A60B61F34G34J60D12H33K34K

and he figures out "these are seat allocations on a passenger jet" in several seconds.

I don't get it. If every "number-then-letter" combination in the string is a specific seat then there're only 14 people on the plane (a 747 which takes around four hundred people). Plus what's the point in planning which seats are taken without deciding who takes each seat? I don't see how this sequence could help anyone except Sherlock.

What exactly is in the string and how does it help plan the operation with the jet?

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Mycroft says "One fragment of one email...", which suggests the string of numbers isn't all there is to it. But what would be the point of an email that contains all(?) seat numbers of a flight? Maybe there is a corresponding list of names (passenger manifest) and together it lists who's dead body is in which seat. –  Oliver_C Oct 9 '13 at 15:29
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1 Answer

The string uniquely identifies the flight based on its partial flight number and the numbers of a few confirmed sets of booked seats. There are a few lone bookings (single passengers) and a few bookings for two or three consecutive seats (couples and families). Considered as a whole, the combination acts as something of a fingerprint for the flight in question.

All that the code does is finger the exact flight which is going to be bombed. It's all rather gimmicky.

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How would someone in the British secret services use it? –  sharptooth Oct 9 '13 at 14:27
    
@sharptooth Do you want to know what the "operation" was supposed to be? –  coleopterist Oct 9 '13 at 14:27
    
The "operation" was that they packed a certain jet with dead bodies so that the planned terrorist attack looked successful but didn't actually killed anyone. This we do know. How would the string be helpful to them? –  sharptooth Oct 9 '13 at 14:30
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@sharptooth The "certain jet" was identified by this code. –  coleopterist Oct 9 '13 at 15:04
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