The boarding pass for your next Qantas flight probably won’t include your Qantas Frequent Flyer number, with the airline dropping those digits in the interests of passenger privacy in the social media age.
A Qantas spokesperson tells Executive Traveller that Qantas Frequent Flyer numbers are being removed from boarding passes “to maintain customer privacy.”
“Numbers are no longer on digital boarding passes and will gradually come off physical boarding passes over the next few weeks.”
Boarding passes will still show the traveller’s frequent flyer status, such as Gold or Platinum, which opens up perks such as access to airport lounges and the priority boarding lane.
Why your boarding pass is a privacy risk
The modern habit of sharing a boarding pass photos on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can turn what seems like harmless ‘travel bragging’ into a hacker-induced headache.
A frequent flyer membership number, coupled with a passenger’s name, offers a window into their frequent flyer account – although would-be hackers still have to guess their password.
However, beyond the frequent flyer number, boarding passes contains a treasure-trove of details which can open the door to hackers, scammers and even identify theft.
The devil in the details
A six-digit alphanumeric PNR (Passenger Name Record) or a much longer E-Ticket number represent your specific flight booking.
Along with your family name, this is usually all that’s needed for somebody to visit the airline’s website and, through the Manage My Booking link, log in to not only view your booking and entire trip itinerary but many of your personal details.
This can result in malicious manoeuvres such as somebody changing your seats or flights, or even cancelling your booking.
However, in some cases the exposed data can include the last four digits of the credit card used to make the booking.
Beware the barcode
The barcode on the ticket also contains all of this travel information in a digital form to be scanned at check-in desks, lounges and departure gates.
But the tech-savvy can use special software capable of reading the barcode, even from a photo of the boarding pass.
The easy solution? Travellers should use smartphone photo-editing software to blur that sensitive information on their boarding pass, or just take a break from social media and enjoy that glass of pre-flight Champagne.