Why boarding passes are best kept private

10 Oct 2016

Steve Hui

CEO - iFLYflat

Recently I've noticed an increase in sharing pictures of boarding passes on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

What most social media users wouldn't know is they are giving viewers access to some highly confidential information.

Boarding passes don't just display your name and where you’re flying, they provide the ability to  modify or cancel your booking.

For each booking, your flight confirmation displays a unique six digit Passenger Name Record (PNR). 

The PNR is like the password to your flight and every passenger would have accessed their flight booking via this number at some point.

The PNR and your surname can be used to access your flight booking, change or cancel your flights, change seat allocation, select meals as well as several other functions. It's very handy if used correctly.

This also means anyone who views your post can access the same booking information. If they had malicious intent or if they just wanted to play a trick on you, they'll have the capability to do so.

Some people may cover up their name but leave the barcode on the pass exposed.  Unfortunately, this barcode can contain even more personal information on a machine readable format.

The best way to avoid revealing too much is to keep your boarding pass off social media. Take the check in option on your preferred social media platform and post a smile while shopping at the airport, sipping champagne in the lounge or getting ready onboard the plane.

Travellers should also consider disposing of their printed boarding passes carefully at their destination or back home.  

For safety, ripping it up into small pieces or running it through a shredder to ensure no personal data can be easily captured is the best option.

Steve Hui is a CPA who now applies his expertise to maximising the value of frequent flyer and loyalty programs. His company iFLYflat is an industry leader in reward points management. Connect with Steve on Linkedin and follow him on Twitter.

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