Why You Should Never Post Photos of Your Boarding Pass on Social Media

Why You Should Never Post Photos of Your Boarding Pass on Social Media

Have you ever posted a photo of your boarding pass on social media before? Or do you know someone that does? Read on to find out why that may have been a regrettable decision.

It has almost become a staple in travelling. When one thinks of ‘instagrammable’ moments in airports, a particular picture comes to mind almost immediately. We have all seen it before on our friend’s Instagram feeds or Snaps. Perhaps we may even be guilty of it ourselves.

It is, of course, a photo of our passports at the end of our outstretched arms with the boarding passes sticking out.

I have to say that I was surprised at the relative ease with which I was able to find real photos of passports and boarding passes on Google Images. I am sure that, by the end of this article, you’ll be surprised too.

However, for the purposes of confidentiality that I will soon expound on, I cannot use a picture that shows the boarding pass for a plane in its entirety.

Here’s a typical boarding pass. When taking photos of boarding passes, the portion on the right will usually stick out of the passport. This portion will usually contain the following information:

  • The Passenger’s Name
  • Flight number
  • Destination
  • Boarding Gate
  • Seat Number
  • The Barcode or QR Code

I have observed that some do take precautions to censor and/or blur out their names and flight numbers. The destination is almost always left untouched. That’s no surprise – why else are you sharing the post on social media anyway? Censoring the flight number and name may give some a false sense of security, perhaps against stalkers, but the one thing that is most detrimental to security is usually left uncensored. It’s something that reveals way more about not just your current trip, but also your future and past trips; it’s a wealth of information about your travel habits that is hidden in plain sight.

The Barcode

What’s in a Barcode, you may ask. If you have any old boarding passes lying around, you could try this experiment for yourself. Take a picture of the Barcode or QR Code and decode it using a generic free-to-use decoder like Inlite.

More often than not, the information that is obtained by decoding your boarding pass barcode is enough for one to log on to your profile on the airline’s website and obtain your flight information. Beyond that, the stranger with a decoder can even cancel your flight, change your seats, get your home address and based on your frequent flyer number, even track your past and future flight records. 

Sometimes, your Passenger Name Record (‘PNR’) can also be obtained. The PNR serves as a unique identifier of the passenger in the computer reservation system. It includes route data on you and on all those travelling along.

This is anything but a joking matter. It is dangerous in many ways, including, but not limited to, the following:


By obtaining the home addresses of yourself and those you travel with, your houses may be subjected to theft, especially since the thieves would know how long you will be gone for.


Upon logging into your personal profile on the airline’s website, one can easily change your seats and meals. They could even cancel or change the date of your return flights.


If you are travelling with someone you aren’t supposed to be travelling with, such information can be obtained using the PNR as people who booked flights together will share the same PNR. This information may be held against you. The same way, a person could also obtain your Next of Kin’s information and blackmail him or her under a false pretense of kidnapping.


With your PNR and Frequent Flyer Number, one can also exhaust your miles accumulated for their personal gain.

These things above, in my opinion, only scratch the surface of what can be done with such information. It took me no more than five minutes to write about the potential repercussions listed above. I have no doubt that someone armed with your PNR and sinister intentions could be capable of much worse.

Shred it, not share it

As for me, the question now isn’t about how I should share, but rather, it is about how I should shred the boarding passes. If you don’t have access to a document shredder or don’t wish to pollute the air by offering it to the hungry ghosts, I would strongly urge you to tear up your boarding pass before disposing of it.

So before you, or a friend, post that ‘mandatory passport shot’ on social media, remember this piece.

About Author

Ariffin Sha
Ariffin Sha

Ariffin Sha is a law undergraduate who loves tales about mountains and unorthodox destinations. It is his dream to write his own stories about mountains and unorthodox destinations, one trip at a time.


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