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Five reasons you shouldn't bin your boarding passes while travelling

By Chris C., April 1 2019
Five reasons you shouldn't bin your boarding passes while travelling

While you might be tempted to dispose of your airline boarding passes straight after your flight – or even just leave them in the seat pocket – there are plenty of reasons you should hold onto all of them until your journey is complete.

For example, without a valid boarding pass to show, you might not be able to file any travel insurance claims after your trip, chase up any frequent flyer points that don’t automatically appear in your account, help locate your baggage if it doesn’t appear on the belt, and more.

Here are just some of the reasons you should keep your boarding passes safely stored until you return home, and when it’s okay to finally dispose of them.

1. You may need them for a travel insurance claim

Even if your claim doesn’t relate to the flight itself, you may be asked to supply copies of your boarding passes and also airline tickets to either prove that you were travelling, or that you departed from Australia and returned home during the dates covered by your policy.

It’s for this reason I always hold onto boarding cards until the end of my trip, whether tucked away in an envelope with the rest of my receipts, kept as a screenshot on my phone (in the case of web-based boarding passes), or stored safely in Apple Wallet if using mobile check-in.

2. Claiming missing frequent flyer points is tricky without them

Most of the time, points arrive on their own – but when you do need to submit a missing points claim, you’ll often be asked to send through a copy of the boarding pass for the flight in question: particularly when travelling on a partner airline of your ‘home’ frequent flyer program.

Some schemes take this one step further and even ask for your seat number during the claim process, which won’t often be shown on your airline ticket, but naturally does appear on your boarding pass.

3. Your barcode contains confidential booking information

As we’ve covered previously, it’s best not to leave your boarding pass on the aircraft – or snap a photo and share it on social media unredacted – as the barcode printed on the boarding pass can contain far more information than displayed in plain text.

This can include your booking reference number or ‘PNR’, which provides online access to your itinerary and could be used for flight or seating changes, or to access personal information such as passport details, contact numbers, or potentially even frequent flyer accounts.

Read: What that barcode on your boarding pass reveals about you

4. Your checked baggage receipts may be on the back

Safely arrived at your destination but your checked bag hasn’t?

When lodging your missing luggage report at an airline’s service desk, they’ll need to know which baggage tag they’re searching for: and your baggage stickers or receipts are often attached to the back of your boarding pass, or printed on the front alongside your other information.

In some cases – such as when flying with Qantas – your baggage receipt is printed on a card that otherwise looks like a boarding pass, which should again be kept together until all bags are returned.

Also read: This simple trick helps ensure your suitcase arrives on the belt

5. Your boarding pass could unlock airport lounge access on arrival

After taking a domestic flight with Qantas or Virgin Australia, some travellers have the privilege of accessing an airport lounge at their destination before heading into the city, and the easiest way to do this is to flash the boarding pass from your inbound flight.

With Qantas, this is an option for Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers, along with business class passengers arriving into east coast cities on overnight flights from Perth.

Virgin Australia welcomes a broader list of passengers into the lounge after its flights, including all business class flyers, Velocity Gold and Platinum members, paid-up Virgin Australia Lounge members, and VIP-level members of The Club.

So, when should you dispose of your boarding pass?

As a rule, I hold onto my boarding passes from every trip until I’ve returned home, know that I won’t need to make a travel insurance claim from that journey, have confirmed that any frequent flyer points owed have been credited correctly, and have been reunited with any checked bags.

Assuming the boarding passes aren’t needed for anything else – as some companies may require them to support travel expense claims – only then are they disposed of, by going through the shredder.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 183

I was asked for my BP when going through immigration at DPS, Indonesia. I had it but couldnt find it in the panic I felt at the time - having never been asked for it before. There are now signs at DPS airport showing to present BP with passport on entry.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2520

Good tip Colin - I’ve been asked for my inbound boarding pass at US passport control too, although they don’t often ask.

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 16

They usually ask for BP in Thailand in Philippines as well (or at least flight number) so they can write it on the stamp in the passport.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 156

Thanks for posting this - really good tips. The privacy one is a real concern, especially frequent flyer details are on the boarding pass.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 90

Why is the sequence number so important? I note it is also on electronic passes as well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 684

The sequence number records the order of the passenger check-in process (irrespective of whether it is at the airport or an on-line check-in).

Apart from serving as a numeric count of checked in passengers, it can also be useful in determining potential 'off-loads' in an oversold situation ie: the flight has 150 physical seats but is oversold to a level of 157 In this instance, you'd rather not have a SEQ number of 151-157. Whilst the SEQ number is not the sole determinant of off-load order, it helps establish the parameter.

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 24

The sequence number is used in the airport processes eg check in, baggage tracking, couting passengers etc. As it will be 3 digits or less, it’s a short and unique way to identify individual passengers that is easily understood in multilingual situations whilst minimiconfusion.

I keep 4 - 5 separate travel folders at home and take one with me on each trip where I put all the tickets. boarding passes, receipt etc. For the next trip, I just empty the oldest folder contents and make room. Depending on my travel frequency, I manage to keep a bit of record of the travels but not too much to cluster.

22 Dec 2017

Total posts 4

Also if the plane has a mechanical problem and you return to the airport . You will need it again to reboard.

QF 583 to 4 Apr last year, 1hr out had to return to Sydney.

On return one line to reboard another line to get boarding pass so you can join the line boarding :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 8

Thanks Chris and all good points.

Another one is when travelling on EK; when using Chauffeur Drive at DXB, your boarding pass is the best ID for a fast getaway. Passport may also do the job but will result in more questions that cause delays when queues are long.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Sep 2018

Total posts 1

I was asked for it at the arrival gate at BKK from KUL on RJ. It was going on to Amman, and onward bound passengers were not getting off. 1 hour stopover and no refueling.

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 13

BA launched its lifetime points programme and I was disappointed at how few points I had, and certainly not enough for protected status. I had been a gold member, flew around the World and Europe and Company policy was to use BA wherever possible. So I asked for the history and found that there were a lot of one way flights, which I knew I had return tickets according to BA, I flew to Vancouver 3 times but not back with them, Seattle once, Orlando once and lots of one way flights in Europe. When I asked them to check, they said they could only accept claims with ticket numbers and boarding cards!!! Some flights were 20 years before, so I really became disenchanted with the Executive Club and so on.


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

Another reason - if buying duty-free at your destination airport, they will normally ask for a BP (to prove that you aren't staff, crew etc but are a genuine inbound passenger)

22 Jul 2014

Total posts 14

Some Asian countries it is a must to show boarding pass at immigration, customs and security - India comes to mind.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2017

Total posts 18

Great article Chris, I have learnt the hard way in the past that even though I am a QFF and always ensure the details are on my bookings, the flights do not always register when using other One World airlines. American Airlines are especially bad, very few of their flights show up automatically and I hold on the the BP until points and stars credits are registered.

I recently did a RTW with Finnair and the QF, CX and AA flights were fine but only half of the Finnair flights automatically showed up.
I had to apply through Qantas and send copies of the BPs to them to claim missing points and status credits.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 606

In January, at the Delta Sky Club lounge (T3 at LAX), only because I still had my VA23 BP I was allowed in. Even though departing that afternoon on VS8, the Clubhouse wasn't open but because I had the Platinum card and same-day BP, I was given full access. Later went and ate lunch in Clubhouse, but the Delta lounge was great, well attended and with a comparatively 'festive' crowd.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 606

Chris, No. 06 is that they also make for really good bookmarks and, depending on the trip, can be a pleasant reminder of past travels.

21 Jun 2019

Total posts 5

I never keep my BPs, but miraculously I found the one I needed from a trip in March to claim missing points. Never needed them for Malaysian, Emirates or Royal Jordanian - the points just appeared in my account, but apparently Qatar doesn't do the trick.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2018

Total posts 14

I’m currently trying to claim missing flight credits from Accor and documentation was required to prove my flight details. I retain all digital boarding passes in my Apple wallet until all QFF points and status credits and Accor points are awarded. 


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1436

Not many offer digital boarding passes for international. Too many different scanners I expect.

07 May 2021

Total posts 10

I generally keep mine anyway for sentimental purposes

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