Posting pictures of your recent vacation on social media can be harmless but make sure you’re not uploading a photo of your boarding pass along with it. A boarding pass picture reveals a lot more than you think and could ruin your trip in more ways than one.

What’s On A Boarding Pass?

At first glance, boarding passes seem to have pretty generic information that’s not worth protecting. Your full name, the date of your flight, the departure and destination, flight number and seat. Those pieces of information: your full name, date of the flight, and seat number on their own might not seem like particularly sensitive information. Combined however, those pieces of data can give someone with malicious intent a lot of information to scam you.

Your full name might not seem very valuable but especially if you have a middle name is a good identifier for a thief to narrow things down. Departure city might also be interesting since it could indicate the area you live – and now a cyber criminal has bits of information indicating who you are, where you might live so by putting those together could potentially turn up an address with some Google searches. Going to Vienna for 2 weeks? Your house or apartment might be empty and a potential thief knows exactly how long you’ll be gone.

It might seem like paranoia but robberies after people post online that they’re on vacation do happen.

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Changes You Don’t Want

Boarding passes will typically show your ticket number which, combined with the rest of the information on a boarding pass, is often enough for someone to modify or cancel your flights. Most airlines and booking sites will let you make changes to a flight with just a Passenger Name Record (PNR) – a common record on most boarding passes. Someone else with a picture of your boarding pass could do the same – potentially charging you for an upgrade or canceling your trip, causing you one big headache.


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All of this information is also contained in the bar code which can be decoded easily using a number of websites where you can upload an image and read all the data. Your frequent flyer number, flight details, all of that can be used to get into your mileage account or reset the password, locking you out.

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Keep Your Identity Private

There are even cases where using the information gleaned from a boarding pass of identify theft where someone calls the airline using information gathered from a boarding pass to get more information and commit fraud, essentially opening the door to other forms of identity theft. In addition to your frequent flier number, your boarding pass can give away your Known Traveler Number which is associated with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check in the US, and redress number that’s part of Department of Homeland Security’s TRIP program).

It all comes down to information – the less you post online, the better. For boarding passes, make sure you do take a picture of them for this reason just never post it online.