a passport with a credit card in it

Your boarding pass is so much more than you think it is.

It’s not just the beeping thing that gets you on the plane, it’s the key to earning miles towards future travel and the gatekeeper of weird personal info about you too. Yes, some of which may be fairly personal.

Any walk through the airport is always a visual “what not to do” guide for boarding passes, so here are a few tips which will get you rolling in miles and more, without the shock horror that can follow.

Singapore Airlines Boarding Pass

Keep Your Pass Until Your Miles Post

For a variety of reasons we’ll discuss below, you’ll eventually want to discard of your boarding pass safely and securely. But before you do, make sure your miles post.

In most cases, frequent flyer miles are automatically added within days of your flight, but there are endless cases where a system error occurs and they never show. Or, in even more cases, they show up incorrectly.

When this happens, some airlines demand a copy of a physical boarding pass before they cough up your points and elite status credit. It’s not fair, but it’s a great reason to hang onto your boarding pass until the miles officially hit your account.

Take Caution Taking Pictures

If you’ve seen headlines over the years telling you that people can steal your personal information from your boarding pass, it’s totally true.

Not only that, a mean person could legitimately cancel your trip and leave you stranded in a foreign country all from one revealing boarding pass photo. So yeah, let that humble brag wait until the round trip, or journey is completed.

The bar codes on your boarding pass reveal your name, booking confirmation code and frequent flyer data, so make sure to cover up barcodes and any other sensitive info. Here’s a full primer on that.

Check The Back For Discounts

Emirates has been a prime example of blowing peoples minds with boarding pass discounts. Some airlines use boarding pass promos to turn the travel cards into a membership card offering travelers up to 50% off at stores, restaurants and more.

Airlines are always looking for new ways to make money, and the back of many a boarding pass have become hallowed advertising ground. Whether it’s a discount on hotels at your destination or a coupon to save on luggage, it’s worth exploring what’s on the back of your boarding card.

Some airlines offer free transit hotels to passengers who present their boarding card during a long overnight connection.

airport space

Actually Keep The Luggage Sticker

In some countries, baggage areas are secure and serious spaces. If you want to leave with your bag you must show your baggage receipt and boarding pass.

That, and if your bag doesn’t turn up, you’ll want the sticker with the tracking info to hand to the airline.

People love peeling that flimsy sticker off their boarding pass and when you reconnect with your bags and leave the airport, that’s totally ok – but if you do so before then, you may seriously wish you didn’t.

Nerd Out With It To Pass Time

Did you know the “seq” number on your boarding pass represents the order in which you checked in? Or, that if you find an SSSS on your boarding pass after check in that you’re going to get a full on pat down?

Sequence: 001 would mean you were the first person to check in for the flight. You probably know where you’re sitting, but there’s little things like “J” mean business class, whereas “Y” means economy.

Anything to make the time tick, right? Oh, and pay attention to your boarding group number if you want to make friends.

Shred It Don’t Spread It

When you’ve taken advantage of discounts, gotten your miles and collected all your luggage, the boarding pass has fulfilled all of its official uses.

At this point you can either save it in a personal folder or do something artsy, like lacquer all of yours onto a cool table. If you’re not going to be quite that sentimental or travel geeky, the best thing to do is shred your boarding pass. Don’t just chuck it.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. What about the tags they put on the luggage? I notice there are bar codes on there too. Any sensitive info on those? As soon as I get my bag off the conveyor belt, I shred them and throw it in the airport trash.

  2. Do you always recommend getting a paper boarding pass?

    I was doing electronic boarding passes only through my iPhone for the longest time, and then I had an issue with miles on one flight… dealing with the airline they wanted my ticket number but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to find it using the electronic boarding pass. I eventually got them but not after a whole ordeal since I didn’t have the ticket number!

    1. I save my email receipts from when the flight was booked. That has the ticket number, record locator, etc in it. Of course, if there is an airline that needs a physical boarding pass (HUH?!?!) then I guess I’m screwed right along side you!

  3. Never ever put your address on your luggage, just your name and a mobile number will do especially if you are obviously travelling as a family group.
    The bad guys can steal your address and burgle your home while your away.

  4. I can tell you from experience that your boarding pass can give others access to things they shouldn’t. I was flying LHR-DXB on EK and there were 2 drunken idiots sat around us being loud, rude to everyone, literally putting trays on other pax laps, spilling drinks etc. Lots of others were asking the FA’s why they kept giving them alcohol when they were quite obviously plastered.

    One of them had their boarding pass in their pocket, which they dropped, which I picked up, signed into the booking, moved them to opposite ends of the plane, with vegan meals and every other obscure setting that is possible in the EK booking system. All in time for their return flight less than 48 hours later. I hope they enjoyed that return flight.

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