Why You Shouldn’t Post Your Boarding Pass Online

You’ve done it, I’ve definitely done it; most of us have posted pictures of our boarding pass online. Why wouldn’t you? The adventure is starting, you’re at the airport killing an hour before the flight and enjoying a drink in the departure lounge. You just want to share your excitement with your friends (or more like rub it in their faces).

If there is a clear example of why you shouldn’t post a picture of your boarding pass, look no further than the example of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who recently made headlines when his information held by Qantas was ‘hacked’.

What was hacked from Tony Abbott?

The short answer is nothing; the hacker did not steal or use the information in a malicious manner. The point of the ‘hacking’ was to highlight security flaws in Qantas’ system.

From a simple Instagram post showing the boarding pass & a baggage receipt in full, the hacker accessed Mr Abbott’s Qantas booking and within 45 minutes accessed HTML code which included his passport number, contact details, internal airline notes among other things.

While no major incident occurred in this example, the ease of a security breach of a prominent Australian should definitely make you want to pay attention to your own personal data.

Tony Abbott hacked: Former PM's massive boarding pass mistake
This simple Instagram photo from the former Australian Prime Minister has caused a massive security stir
(source: news.com.au – original Instagram post since deleted)

What’s the one reason not to post boarding passes online?

When making an airline reservation, you need to provide your airline or travel agent sensitive information that is required for your booking. Some information is required for government agencies for pre-screening of passengers prior to departure & arrival between countries, and other information makes your journey more comfortable.

In the wrong hands, criminals can use this basic information as a way to have you fall victim to identity theft.

Airlines and travel agents have strong data protections and laws in place keeping your personal data safe. However by posting your boarding pass online, you are virtually volunteering the data which savvy hackers use to find keys to your sensitive information. Some airlines require as little information as a booking number and a surname to view the reservation online, both details found on all boarding passes.

What information could be obtained from your boarding pass?

For a basic international airline reservation you will likely be providing most of the following, before your tickets can be issued:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Email address
  • Passport number & expiry
  • Residential address

Does the required information look familiar to you? These are questions asked in most applications to sign up for new services and ‘forgotten password’ forms. Should an unauthorised person gain access to this information, there is nothing stopping them from attempting to use your information as a basis for illegal activity under your name nearly anywhere.

For those who have travelled regularly, you may also know that airlines often collect other information to make your journey more comfortable, such as:

  • Frequent flyer number & status
  • Special dietary requirements
  • Seating requests
  • Additional baggage
  • Special baggage (e.g sports equipment or dangerous goods)

To be honest, I wouldn’t want this information in the hands of my friends in fear they will try and put me in a middle seat or change my flight, let alone someone wanting to use and experiment with this information for malicious purposes.

What’s the best way to protect information when posting on social media?

The easiest way to do this is to ensure you’re not including any material that may give away any unique booking details full stop. If you’re not sure what to post, stick to selfies!

If you are feeling a little artsy and just need to post something, just leave out the boarding pass. Perhaps take one of the departure board, or one of the aircraft parked at the gate or if you’re at Singapore’s Changi Airport, take One Flying Lap like I did!

Final words

During the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us aren’t flying anywhere at the moment; but when you do take to the sky again there’s simply no need to post a snap of that data rich piece of paper! If your need inspiration, Caroline at breaks.com has 10 tips for taking great travel pictures.

What do you share to social media prior to your travels? Do you share at all?
Let me know in the comments below!

Feature photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Upgraded: Qantas Business Class

This isn’t the normal flight review that you’ll already find all over the internet. I don’t fly business class often; I’ve been extremely lucky to fly a couple of sectors with ridiculously cheap tickets via India, and another time on a lucky domestic upgrade.

For readers who don’t fly business class, this is for you. For the seasoned pointy end flyers, also read on, as I hope you still feel the same level of excitement as I did with this crazy adventure.

HKG to SYD Qantas Business Class
HKG to SYD Airplane Route
Tonight’s route takes us over the Philippines, Indonesia and Queensland before descending through central New South Wales, into Sydney Airport

Check-in

I took advantage of Hong Kong’s in-town check-in at the Hong Kong Airport Express station. This service is also available at Kowloon Airport Express station as well. Station staff manage check in for multiple airlines, however there was no line when I arrived and the process is extremely efficient.

HKG Check-in Desk
Check-in desks at Kowloon Airport Express train station

Pre-flight services

As a business class passenger, the biggest perk is access to airline lounges. Qantas has its own lounge inside Hong Kong airport, however I arrived extra early to sample three of the famous Cathay Pacific lounges, the Emirates lounge as well as Qantas – I was really pushing to get the maximum experience today. You also have access to priority check-in and priority boarding to whizz you through the airport as efficiently as possible.

Seat and meal selection is available through the Qantas website for all passengers regardless of cabin class; however, the cheapest economy tickets will incur a fee to select seating.

Wantas Hong Kong Lounge
The Qantas lounge was my last stop before the flight, after sampling three Cathay Pacific lounges and the Emirates lounge.

Boarding

Just a short walk from the Qantas Lounge, I used the priority boarding lane and waltzed on through the gate. Greeted by name, the lovely flight attendant guided me to my seat, 15K which is on the window.

HKG Boarding Gate
Boarding call for Sydney

Awaiting me at my seat were noise cancelling headphones and the dinner menu. Shortly after sitting, a flight attendant came around with the famous Flying Kangaroo pajamas.

Qantas Business Class Gifts
Noise cancelling headphones, menu and pajamas

Seating

Oh. My. Gosh! This feels like sitting on a throne, presiding over a small country. It’s a soft, well padded seat with oodles of buttons for seat recline, hidey holes for your belongings and a massive storage bin by your side.

Sitting on the window means that you will have to climb over your “seatmate” to reach the aisle, however on this flight no one sat next to me, giving me even more space.

Qantas Business Class Seat
Sitting in comfort the entire way

For sleeping, the seat lies flat, except for my feet which seemed to dangle off the edge a little bit – I’m not sure if this is a flaw in the seat design or if I’m just too tall.

For those wanting to know, yes, the pajamas are super comfy and stylish!

Qantas Pajamas
Ready for bed, rocking out the Qantas pajamas!

Food

All the food was delicious, with generous portion sizes. I finished every little bit!

My entree selection was a chicken salad topped with a peanut sauce, and side salad with bread…

Qantas Business Class Food

…followed by the main where I chose duck wontons in broth…

Qantas Airplane Food

…and finished with a cheese plate served with a dessert wine. My champagne went down a treat with this selection as well.

Qantas Cheese and Crackers

Entertainment

All TV screens are folded away under the armrest which makes them highly adjustable to easily watch TV or Hollywood blockbusters whether sitting upright or down in bed mode. With hundreds of shows to choose from it’s nearly impossible to become bored on this flight.

Qantas Entertainment, Family Guy
The large entertainment system is easy to swivel to nearly any angle

Cabin Crew

The cabin crew on this flight were simply world class. With a warm friendly welcome they were chatty yet gave an ever professional presence. During our delay they remained friendly and approchable for anyone who had questions, or for those simply wanting a chat.

Extending past the on board cabin crew, the staff in the Qantas lounge are absolute legends as well. This was my last stop of my flying lounge visits in Hong Kong airport, and I wish I had come here first. Super friendly and approachable, they even suggested food pairings with my drink order. If I’m lucky enough to fly business class out of Hong Kong again, you will find me in the Qantas lounge.

Hong Kong Qantas Lounge Staff
Be sure to use the Qantas lounge at Hong Kong, the friendliest staff of all the lounges I visited during the afternoon.

How did I pay for this?

With Sydney-Hong Kong business class tickets starting at A$3000 return, I needed a cheaper way to enjoy this premium experience. I secured business class on this flight with a Qantas upgrade bid. This is an invitation only service that allows you to “bid” with a mixture of cash and Qantas Frequent Flyer points to upgrade to a premium cabin. This is dependent on seat availability, and all bids are accepted or denied at Qantas’ sole discretion. Once you place your bid it sits on the Qantas system pending; your credit card is only charged if your bid has been accepted. Further information can be found on the Qantas website.

Qantas Upgrade Me Big
The sweetest email to read before a flight!

An important note to make is that if you’re wanting 100% certainty to fly business class, then you should purchase a business class ticket. If you’re happy to accept the risk that you may not get upgraded, these bid now upgrades can provide a fantastic premium experience at a lower cost than the standard ticket price.

One other important note is that Qantas operate the Airbus A380 to Hong Kong during peak demand seasons such as Chinese New Year. At other times of the year, you may be flying on the Airbus A330, or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Check which aircraft you’ll be travelling on before booking to avoid disappointment.

Something different…

Our flight was delayed by four hours in Hong Kong due to a combination of an essential mechanical repair and a passenger who fell ill. This caused me to miss my connecting flight to Brisbane (which was no big deal, Sydney to Brisbane flights run more frequently than my local bus) however I received a lovely apology letter from Qantas due to the delay.

Qantas Delay Apology
The apology email sent from Qantas after our 4 hour delay on the ground in Hong Kong

I appreciate the small gesture of reaching out to apologise for the delay. This is the first time an airline has proactively communicated with me after a delay and I would hope more follow suit.

The final words

Today was my lucky day. Securing an upgrade on the iconic A380 which will soon cease production, waltzing through five different business class lounges for the sake of it and talking to the lovely cabin crew who made me feel at home in the sky – I can fully recommend this business class experience to anyone who wants to spoil themselves to some extra luxury.

Let me know in the comment section below, what’s your favourite business class experience? How many lounges can you visit in one airport visit?

Featured photo taken on descent into Sydney Airport, on board QF128

┬ętylergoesplaces 2019