Have you ever wondered about the dangers of sharing a picture of your boarding pass on social media or disposing of it in public places? Does it reveal more information other than your name and supposedly safe details of your flight from USA to India? Of course, it does! It can give hackers access to your personal information, which can be misused in ways you cannot even imagine.
Moreover, if you are an L-1 or H1B visa holder, it is imperative that you keep your boarding passes for USA to India flights safe so as you can provide it as evidence to extend your stay by tapping the US visa recapture rule (elaborated below). Let’s understand in detail why you should never post your boarding pass on social media or/and discard it carelessly.
Know why you should not post your boarding pass on social media
A boarding pass, be it a printout or electronic version, contains your full name, flight number, seat number, and other basic flight details. But there is more information hidden in it than what meets your eye. A boarding pass also has your Passenger Name Record (PNR) – as encrypted in barcode or QR code, if not in printed letters. And if you think your personal information encoded in the barcode is secure, you are wrong.
In this age of technological advancement, it’s not a big deal for cybercriminals to decode the barcode and steal sensitive information out of it, most importantly your credit card details used for purchasing international flight tickets online. Although the information it contains may vary for different airlines (some barcodes also have driver’s license and passport details), it does contain your PNR code. And this PNR along with your last name may just be enough for hackers to gain access to all your booking information, which in turn discloses your contact number, email address, date of birth, home address, and emergency contact information.
Fraudsters can exploit your personal information to make changes to your future bookings, book or cancel flights without your knowledge, and even change PIN/password to your account (with many other bits of your personal information at disposal, it is not very difficult to answer security questions). Another piece of vulnerable data that hackers can pull out from the barcode is the airline customer ID. The knowledge of this account number, unique to individual customers, makes identity theft an easy job for savvy hackers. They can also call you up in the name of the airline and trick you into providing more personal data, which can be used for fraudulent purchases.
By throwing away boarding passes in a public place or posting it online without blurring the sensitive data, you are not only risking your own security but also that of your travel companions. How? PNR can open up the record of all those traveling with you on the same reservation.
Why you should not discard your boarding passes and flight tickets after travel
Undoubtedly, shredding boarding passes is a safe solution to protect yourself from cybercrimes, such as identity theft, monetary loss and any other misuse of your personal info. But if you are an H-1B visa holder or have an L-1 visa and book flights from USA to India or any other destination for a vacation, we suggest that you keep your boarding passes and flight tickets safe after your travels. It is because they act as an essential documentary evidence for you and your dependents to support the petition seeking an extension of your visa validity under the recapture rule.
Any number of days that you spend outside the US (during the six-year stay period that this employment visa entitles you to) can be recaptured to extend your H1B status by the same number of days. To claim this benefit, you need to present certain proofs of your travels, and copies of your boarding passes and flight tickets are one of them. Hence, you are advised against discarding your boarding passes for more than just security reasons.