Big change to Qantas boarding passes
The next time you fly with Qantas you may notice something missing from your boarding pass … your frequent flyer number.
The airline is ditching these digits due to the rise in people sharing happy snaps of their boarding passes to social media.
It turns out these seemingly innocent social posts aren't worth the bragging rights. If that photo is seen by the wrong person, they can hack into your personal accounts.
How? All a hacker needs is a frequent flyer membership number, a passenger's name (both printed on boarding passes), and to guess the password (often easily done), and they'll have access to someone's frequent flyer account.
A Qantas spokesperson confirmed the change to Executive Traveller, saying the numbers were being removed "to maintain customer privacy". The numbers have already been removed from digital boarding passes, and "will gradually come off physical boarding passes over the next few weeks".
But don't worry, a passenger's frequent flyer status will remain, so members can still flash their boarding passes for access to airport lounges, priority boarding lanes, and other perks.
"Customers' tier status (eg Gold or Platinum) remains visible on boarding passes and Qantas Frequent Flyer numbers can also be found within the Qantas App and on digital Qantas Frequent Flyer cards," the Qantas spokesperson said.
While passengers themselves are ultimately responsible for their own online security, Qantas has made the change as a gesture to help protect its passengers.
Travel expert David Flynn, editor-in-chief of Executive Traveller, says most people don't realise how much data is "hiding in plain sight" on their boarding passes.
"The frequent flyer number isn't a must-have (on boarding passes), so Qantas is taking a small but sensible step to help passengers to protect their privacy," he says.
But even with the frequent flyer numbers removed, Flynn warns that "boarding passes contain a treasure-trove of details relating to not only your frequent flyer profile but your whole trip".
"A simple snapshot of your boarding pass on social media can be used to access your booking online at the airline's website, so somebody with malicious intent could do anything from changing your seat to cancelling your flight."
Even the barcode contains precious information.
"There's plenty of readily-available home computer software which can decipher that barcode - even from a photo of the boarding pass - and reveal everything about your booking, " Flynn says.
The best advice for passengers is obviously to never post photos of boarding passes online, but Flynn says if you really want to do it, there is a safe way.
"Photo-editing software is available for your phone to blur out the barcode, your frequent flyer details, and any E-ticket reference number.
"But the safest place for your boarding pass is in your travel wallet, not on the internet."