YOUR boarding pass contains far, far more information than you might think.
Just how easy is it to gain access to someone’s information?
I come across posts like the one below everyday. Pictures in which people show off a flashy boarding pass emblazoning their name and destination. Some may even be flying first or business class, so they want to share the excitement.
There are some very key pieces of information printed on most boarding cards: your name, your ticket number or booking reference, and a barcode.
On August 30, someone posted a photo of their boarding pass, so I decided to investigate how much information could be accessed. (The vital details have been blurred for the passenger’s sake.)
The image was posted by an Australian Virgin Australia passenger, who was flying co-share on Delta Airlines.
Delta publishes an astonishing amount of information, including the E-Ticket number, booking reference, frequent flyer number and even how many bags you have checked in. I decided to test just how vulnerable the system was, and headed to the Delta website.
Under “Manage My Booking” all that is needed is a passenger name and an E-Ticket number or booking reference.
As all that was on the boarding card, I was quickly able to log into the booking and see all the passenger’s details.
Details also included their seat numbers, frequent flyer details and ticket numbers.
BEWARE: THE BARCODE HIDES EVEN MORE INFO
Even scarier than this is what can come up on a barcode.
In this example is another social media photo, where the passenger has attempted to cover up the important information.
The barcode contains basically all the information on the boarding pass, stored in a specially readable format.
You may think that airport computers are the only devices that can read this, but the truth is, anyone can read a barcode. There are dozens of online barcode readers that provide information based on a photo you upload.
In this case, I was able to retrieve all the passenger’s details without seeing the rest of the boarding card.
The text provided full name, flight number, route, booking reference, ticket number, frequent flyer number and more.
Accessing all this information is a lot easier than you may have thought, and there is a great risk associated with publishing uncensored images of boarding passes.
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.
In a social world where we want to share everything instantly on a global scale with Facebook or Instagram.
IDENTITY THEFT RISK IS REAL
Beware that the risk of identity theft is very high. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post images of boarding passes at all — if you want to show off that hard-earned business or first class ticket to the world, just be sure to cover up or blur out any vital information.
A much safer idea is to share pictures of you drinking champagne in the lounge or on board the plane.
It’s much more than just a boarding card, so be smarter and please take care.
Research carried out by Steve Hui, CEO of www.iflyflat.com.au — experts in optimising frequent flyer points to fly.