Why You Should Never Post Photos of Your Boarding Pass Online

September 15th 2016

Tricia Tongco

Travel is one of the most Instagram-worthy subjects. In fact, people have posted more than 75,000 images of their plane tickets under the hashtag #boardingpass.

boarding pass

However, those pictures are opening them up to major risk.

Steve Hui, the founder of flight rewards management program iFLYflat, recently set out to prove this by conducting an experiment in which he examined an online photo posted by "an Australian Virgin Australia passenger, who was flying co-share on Delta Airlines." Here's what he discovered.

boarding pass

There's highly sensitive information on your boarding pass.

This boarding pass, like most, include your name, your ticket number or booking reference, and a barcode. With that information, Hui was able to go on to the Delta website, log into the booking, and access the following details – "a full breakdown of the fare paid, including the date of purchase and the last four digits of the credit card used" and "their seat numbers, frequent flyer details and ticket numbers."

Even if you cover up that information, the barcode reveals a lot, too.

After examining another social media photo in which the passenger covers her info with her hand, the barcode is left visible. As Hui points out, there are several online barcode readers available. He used one to obtain all the passenger's details she was attempting to hide, include her "full name, flight number, route, booking reference, ticket number, frequent flyer number."

boarding pass

So what's the risk?

With that information, someone could "potentially cancel or change your flights, change your seat or cause other issues," wrote Hui. "Not only can these details be used for identity theft purposes, but you can suffer major financial loss if someone were to use this method to take control of a frequent flyer account."

[h/t Indy100]