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Boarding pass: Understand your boarding pass

Welcome to the boarding pass jungle. We give you a guide here so you can find out what all the codes on your boarding pass mean. You will definitely be surprised.

Boarding pass: Understand your boarding pass is written by Sascha Meineche.

Airport, transportation, flights, travel, boarding passes

Are you wondering too?

You probably know it well. It can be difficult to understand your boarding pass. You stand at the airport and linger over your beautiful, printed boarding pass to check one last time if it is also 6B that is your seat.

And then you wonder what the hell all the weird numbers and codes really mean, and how you as a human being can decode them. But there are actually a lot of logical explanations for that. It is not that difficult once you learn it.

So here's a little guide on how to decode your own boarding pass next time. And a little reminder that you should not throw it in the trash.

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Understand the barcode on your boarding pass

One of the perhaps most recognizable symbols on your boarding pass is the barcode. These are the magnetic stripes that are also called BCBP or the barcode as we will call it at home, and yes it almost resembles the barcodes your milk also has.

Most often it is at the bottom right of your boarding pass, but in fact there are no rules about where on the boarding pass it should be. The barcode itself is 2D and must meet the standards of IATA, which is the abbreviation for International Air Transport Association. It is an aviation trade group that sets criteria for similar rules between countries across airlines and countries. The whole thing is 'translated', so that it all makes sense everywhere in the world, and it can thus be read by all airports.

The barcode is scanned - as most people know - before boarding and helps speed up the boarding process in the aircraft. The scanner recognizes information about the passengers, so that both employees at the gate and the flight staff on board the aircraft can keep track of how many passengers are on board, which seats have been booked and how much luggage has been checked in. Smart, right?

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Your unique identification

You may have heard the word 'PNR number' before. It is a six-digit alphabetical code that appears on your boarding pass. If you know the codes, it may be easier to understand your boarding pass. It's your passenger reference; also called your postal location or reservation code.

It is the number that identifies you as a unique passenger in the event that there is another passenger with exactly your first and last name on the same flight. It is also the number you need to enter electronically to pick up your boarding pass.

This small six-digit number contains a lot of information about your trip. It is, among other things, in your PNR number that you can see your meal wishes or other special wishes for the flight. And it's actually one of the most important reasons why you should not throw your boarding pass in the trash so that others can not get in touch with it and pull information via your reservation number or barcode. Just remember that for the next time before you cool it directly in the trash.

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Flight code and flight number - learn to understand your boarding pass

Here you will find two capital letters followed by a four-digit number. The letters are what the airline in general is represented under. Some are reasonably obvious such as AA - American Airlines, while others are immediately a little more tricky to figure out; eg Norwegian's flight code is DY.

The flight number is determined by the airline through a complex algorithm that takes into account the flight numbers of past and current airlines, while other airlines with similar numbers are scheduled to fly through the same airspace simultaneously. It alleviates potential confusion for pilots and air traffic control. And so it is only two letters and four numbers that can remedy it.

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Other airlines

Your boarding pass sometimes says "operated by" or "operated by", and it tells you something you may have missed in the booking process: That your flight is not actually flown by the company you thought you were traveling with.

The reason for this is that many airlines often sell tickets on websites of aircraft operated by partner aircraft, also known as 'codeshare' aircraft or subsidiaries of regional aircraft, which they own but do not operate themselves. American Airlines, for example, owns American Eagle, but it is operated by a different company than American Airlines and therefore has different rules and structuring. So if it's important for you to fly with your favorite company, just keep an eye on it for next time.

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The security codes on your boarding pass

You can never know for sure security at airports and you never know when you will be selected for random checks. However, if it says 'SSSS' at the bottom of your boarding pass, the odds are reasonable that you will be pulled aside. This code marks you as a higher security risk or 'selected for another security check', which means that you have been designated in advance for further security screening.

It is selected through a passenger preview program. The program improves security by identifying high- and low-risk passengers before they even arrive at the airport, by matching their names to watch lists.

However, the criteria for why or how to end up on this list are not clear, but it does include people who appear on No Fly List og Do Not Board List, prepared by, among others, the various countries' bodies for terrorist surveillance.

However, do not be afraid if you are picked up for extra checks at the airport - this is perfectly normal.

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This suggests your stopover - understand your boarding pass

On your boarding pass you will see an S / O if you have a stopover or a 'lay-over', and "SPTC" if you have a stopover that lasts longer than a few hours. If so, your airline may even book you into a hotel. So it's so worth checking out.

Your boarding pass is your most important friend when you are at the airport and now you know a little more about how to understand your boarding pass.

Nice trip!

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About the travel writer

Sascha Meineche

Sascha Meineche

Sascha is a Jew with his legs planted firmly in the relatively green Frederiksberg soil. As a child, it was on camping trips in Denmark in the summer spiced with slightly more exotic winter destinations. Today, Sascha is bitten by a crazy trip, and can neither collect enough stamps in the passport nor have booked enough trips. There are always at least two trips planned.
Sascha's favorite places in the world count everything from Canada to New York, Botswana and Munich. To put it mildly, there are few places in the world that Sascha does not dream of going to.

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