“People should treat their boarding passes the same way they treat their passports.”

By Meghan Overdeep
December 11, 2019
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Man Holding Passport and Boarding Pass
Credit: wundervisuals/Getty Images

It’s time we started treating our airline boarding passes like the important documents they are.

“People don’t realize that all your personal information is encoded right there,” Etay Maor, chief security officer at global threat intelligence firm IntSights, explained to HuffPost noting an alarming trend of people leaving their passes on planes.

“People should treat their boarding passes the same way they treat their passports,” Maor warned. “You’d never leave your passport behind.”

Though the amount of information contained in a boarding pass varies from airline to airline, even the basics can be used by hackers to gather more details about you. And all they need to access it is a basic barcode scanner—just like the ones you see at the grocery store. Free barcode scanners can also easily be downloaded on websites and in app stores.

Armed with a barcode reader and a boarding pass, someone can easily gain access to all the information associated with your flight details, such as your full name and airline account number. Sometimes, additional details like email address and phone are also be available, HuffPost reports.

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With your full name and frequent flier account number, a scammer can then use social media to guess your “secret question” information and log into your account. From there, who knows what kind of havoc they can wreak.

So, what’s a security conscious traveler to do? Your safest bet is to avoid paper altogether and opt for a digital boarding pass. But, if you’re committed to doing it the old-fashioned way, be sure to keep your paper boarding pass secured at all times and out of the seatback pocket where you might forget it. Finally, once you’re back home, toss it in the shredder. And, whatever you do, please don’t post a photo of your boarding pass on social media.