6 Shocking Reasons NOT to Post Pictures of Your Boarding Pass

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Do you like to share pictures from your travels on social media?  So do I!  It’s fun to show your adventures to friends and family.

But think twice before you post a photo of your boarding pass.  You’re displaying sensitive personal information that makes you vulnerable to hackers.  Your trip could be canceled, or your miles can be stolen – and that’s not all!

Even if you cover the text on your boarding pass, the barcode contains just as much – if not more – information.

Social Media Safety

Avoid the Temptation to Post Pictures of Your Boarding Pass. Share Photos at Your Destination Instead!

Here’s exactly why you should keep your boarding pass private.

What’s in a Barcode?

Link:   Barcode Reader

I uploaded a picture of an old boarding pass to an online barcode reader to see what I could find.

Social Media Safety

Your Tickets Share a Way Into Your Frequent Flyer Accounts

I was shocked at how much information was revealed!  For example, I could see my:

  • Full name
  • Ticket number
  • Fare class
  • Flights and times
Social Media Safety

A Simple Online Barcode Scan Showed My Full Name and Flight Details!

I didn’t know what some of the numbers meant.  But I wouldn’t want to risk sharing them.

Try it and see what comes up from one of your barcodes!

6 Reasons to Practice Social Media Safety With Boarding Passes

Your boarding pass is your ticket, literally, to exploring new parts of the world.  It’s also a ticket for hackers or those without good intentions to gain access to your personal details.

In this case, the saying, “Pictures or it didn’t happen,” does NOT apply!  Because here’s what you risk when you share a photo of your boarding pass publicly.

1.   You Reveal Your Travel Details

If you share your frequent flyer number, confirmation number, or ticket number, either printed on your ticket or through the barcode, it’s easy to find more details.

Social Media Safety

Your Confirmation Number Allows Anyone to Edit Your Trip

For example, on the Delta website, all you need is someone’s name and confirmation number to access a trip.

From there, you can:

  • Change seats
  • See your loyalty number
  • See the last 4 digits of your credit card
  • Edit your travel plans

If someone wanted to, they could change the date of your trip, cancel your return flight, or swap your seat.

That means you could show up for your return flight home to find out it’s been canceled.  Or that the date was changed.  Even scarier, you don’t need to be a hacker to do this!  Anyone with the information from a photo of your ticket could pull up your travel details.

2.   It’s a Key to Your Loyalty Account

Someone more advanced could take it further.  With access to your frequent flyer account, they could see all your past and future trips.  And how many miles are in your account.

Social Media Safety

If You Have Lots of Miles in Your Account, You’ll Want to Keep Them Safe

They could even redeem your miles for other flights or send themselves a gift card, paid from your account.  If you’re sitting on a big collection of miles, this could be devastating when you figure out what happened.

And, there may be little, if anything, you can do to get those miles back.

3.   Your Emails Could Be Hacked, Too

From there, it’s possible to find to your personal or business email accounts.  Because your email will appear in your loyalty account.  And if a hacker is persistent, they can also access your emails.

Social Media Safety

It’s a Short Leap From Your Boarding Pass to Your Email, If It Gets Into the Wrong Hands

Folks want their emails secure.  So don’t take an unnecessary risk with a boarding pass photo.

4.   Identity Theft Will Be Easier

Once someone knows your full name, address, birthday, and possibly more (depending on how much is in your frequent flyer account), you’re at risk for identity theft. 

Even worse, some airlines include your passport data within a ticket’s barcode.  This could make it even easier for someone to lift your identity.

Not only is restoring your identity costly and time-consuming, but it’s a frightening experience no one should have to endure because of one photo opportunity.

5.   Your Family or Friends Can Be Found, Too

If you travel with someone else on the same reservation, you’ll share a PNR, or Passenger Name Record.  So if one person in the group shares their confirmation number, a hacker can easily find everyone who’s traveling together.

Social Media Safety

If You Share Your PNR, Someone Can Find the Names and Details of Your Traveling Companions, Too

That’s risky if you’re traveling with family.  Or, if you’re traveling with a friend, you’ll both be trackable if one of you shares the PNR.

It’s not worth putting everyone at risk for the sake of sharing a neat photo in the airport.

6.   Your Personal Safety Could Be in Jeopardy

If someone sees your trip details, they’ll know how long you’ll be away.  If your home is empty while you travel, a hacker can figure out how much time they’ll have to enter your home before you return.

On that same note, they’ll also know exactly when you’ll get to the airport and your departure gate and terminal.  That can be bad information to share if someone decided to follow you to the airport for some reason.  Or waited for you to exit the terminal on your way home.

While this possibility is hopefully very unlikely, it’s worth considering.  And certainly not worth sharing your whereabouts or giving up your privacy.

Bottom Line

Certain details on your boarding pass, and within the barcode, are an easy way to find more of your personal information.  That can be the key to losing your flights, or even make you an easy target for identity theft.

It’s always worth it to practice social media safety to prevent someone from accessing your flight information.  Or using it as a key to other personal details.

Stick to sharing your vacation photos once you get where you’re going.  That way you keep your details private.  And you can focus on enjoying your well-earned time away! 🙂

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9 responses to “6 Shocking Reasons NOT to Post Pictures of Your Boarding Pass

  1. Richard Paverd

    Access to frequent flyer account is normally password protected so just from a barcode/boarding pass aspect no-one can get into your account… However it is NEVER a good idea to give out any information about travel plans – except maybe after you get back….

  2. Thank you !

  3. There are much easier ways to get someone’s emails. This sounds like an unneccessary scare. Although possible the probability is so low everyone has much bigger things to worry about. Why blow this out of proportion? For the clicks?

  4. Good advice. I am always surprised when I see people posting their boarding passes with the barcode and confirmation number visible. I guess we just don’t realize all the information that is there for the taking.

  5. related to #6: Someone will know when you are not home.

  6. Definitely never post photos of your boarding pass with not covered barcode or your alliance status.
    Hackers are creative!

    Also, never login to your miles and banking over public wifi. I had my miles stolen once like that!

  7. Good article, although of course only the tip of the iceberg and only one aspect of the issue. As someone who does cyber security consulting & penetration testing as part of his professional livelihood, I can say that “Social Media” is, in general, quite a data rich starting point and very helpful in informing the early stages of crafting a more thorough recon sweep on a target. Should we obsess, and hide entirely out of paranoia? Of course not. But should we just blindly dismiss the ramifications of ubiquitous data leakage in our current, barely secured online lives? That too would be insensible, even foolish. So, yeah, responsible & commendable move on Daraius’ part (IMO) to raise awareness here.

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