This man is called Steve Hui. He’s an air travel safety specialist. Every day, he sees hundreds of photographs of boarding passes posted online by people who want to boast to their friends about their upcoming trip. These people don’t realize that such seemingly harmless images could jeopardize all of their travel plans.
To help people protect themselves from criminals, Steve wrote this article. We at Loopfy decided to share it with you. The information it contains might just save your holiday.
Your boarding pass contains far, far more information than you might think.
It doesn’t just display your name and where you’re flying but gives people access to some highly confidential information, as well as providing the ability to modify or cancel your booking.
Just how easy is it to gain access to someone’s information?
I come across posts like the one above every day. Pictures in which people show off a flashy boarding pass emblazoned with 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.
How easy is it to get access to your information?
The image was posted by a 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.
From that information, I could view the passenger’s entire itinerary and see when and where they were going to travel.
Details also included their seat numbers, frequent flyer details, and ticket numbers.
But that’s not all!
Taking it even further, it was easy to see a full breakdown of the fare paid, including the date of purchase and the last four digits of the credit card used.
People with malicious minds could use that information to potentially cancel or change your flights, change your seat, or cause other issues.
And this isn’t the worst thing.
Even scarier than this is what can come up on a barcode.
In this example, we see another social media photo where the passenger has attempted to cover up the important information.
She has unknowingly left the barcode visible (which I’ve covered up), something even savvy travelers may commonly overlook.
The barcode contains basically all the information on the boarding pass, stored in a special 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.
It’s easy to see just how revealing these seemingly innocent pictures can be.
In a social world, we want to share everything instantly on a global scale through Facebook or Instagram.
THE RISK OF IDENTITY THEFT 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 onboard the plane.
It’s much more than just a boarding card, so be smarter and please take care.