Skip to Content

Why is duplicate written on boarding pass?

Having the word “duplicate” printed on boarding passes is a common practice by airlines for security and logistical reasons. The duplicate boarding pass serves an important function in ensuring a smooth travel experience for passengers.

What does “duplicate” mean on a boarding pass?

The word “duplicate” on a boarding pass simply means it is a copy of the original boarding pass issued. When checking in for a flight, airlines will print two identical boarding passes – one for the passenger to retain throughout their journey while the other is scanned at the boarding gate and collected by airline staff.

The reason both are marked as duplicates is that neither is considered an “original” per se – both carry the exact same details and barcode information. The airline does not designate one as an original and one as a copy.

Why do airlines print duplicate boarding passes?

There are several important reasons why duplicate boarding passes are issued:

Lost boarding passes – Having a duplicate offers a critical backup option if somehow the passenger loses one of their boarding passes during their airport transfers or journey to the gate. The duplicate can be presented with no issues for boarding.

Verification across multiple touchpoints – The duplicate allows the airline to verify a passenger’s information at every checkpoint – airline counters, security, the gate, even at times aboard the aircraft. It allows consistency in confirming the passenger’s details.

Redundancy in scanning – Occasionally boarding passes get scanned erroneously or the barcode does not properly read. Having a duplicate provides a backup in case of any errors in the scanning process along the journey.

Separation of document flow – One boarding pass copy can be retained by the passenger while the other moves through airline staff as required for boarding, verification and aircraft manifest checks. It allows boarding documents to be managed independently.

How are duplicate boarding passes used by airlines?

Airlines have an established procedure for how the duplicate boarding passes are utilized:

Check-in – The first boarding pass is printed and provided after the passenger checks in at the airline counter, kiosk or online. This is retained by the passenger.

Security – At the TSA or security checkpoint, the duplicate is scanned to verify the passenger’s identity and flight details. It is returned to the passenger after scanning.

Boarding gate – Prior to boarding the aircraft, the duplicate is again scanned at the boarding gate by airline agents to confirm the passenger’s seat on that flight. The duplicate is then retained by the agent.

Onboard verification – Crew members may also collect the remaining boarding pass copy to double check details and manage in-flight services.

What happens if a passenger loses their boarding pass?

Losing a boarding pass can be problematic for airline procedures, but having a duplicate offers a simple remedy. The passenger simply presents the remaining copy of the boarding pass, either at the security checkpoint, boarding gate or check-in counter to be issued a replacement.

As both were identical duplicates, the passenger can still proceed as normal in airports and board their flight. Airlines track that a replacement was issued and update their systems, but it does not impact the passenger significantly.

However, it is always ideal for a passenger to retain both boarding passes up to the boarding gate for a smooth process.

Are there any security risks with duplicate boarding passes?

There are minimal security risks associated with having duplicate boarding passes. The critical identifiers – passenger name, flight details and the barcode – are identical on both.

Airline computer systems instantly recognize and void any duplicated barcodes that have already been scanned at a previous checkpoint. This prevents anyone from attempting to reuse a boarding pass fraudulently.

The duplication actually enhances security – allowing verification of a passenger’s identity and documentation numerous times across multiple touchpoints. Overall, the duplicate boarding pass improves security rather than weakening it.

When do passengers need to show both boarding passes?

Passengers only need to physically present one boarding pass copy at each point – check-in, security, the boarding gate. Only one needs to be scanned to proceed at each stage.

However, it is advisable to retain both up to the boarding gate in case of mishaps with either copy. Once at the gate, the duplicate is collected by the agent while the other allows boarding the aircraft.

There are seldom situations where both boarding passes need to be shown, as the airline computer systems communicate with each other to share verified information.

Can a passenger request not to have duplicate boarding passes?

Airlines will always print duplicate boarding passes as standard procedure, so passengers cannot request only a single pass. The duplicates are an essential part of airline security and operations.

However, a passenger can request or opt-in for a mobile boarding pass sent to their smartphone rather than printed paper copies. The mobile pass and printed duplicate will contain the same barcode and details.

This allows the benefits of duplication without the need to carry extra printed passes through one’s journey. The mobile pass can be shown on the smartphone wherever a paper duplicate was needed.

Do all airlines worldwide use duplicate boarding passes?

Printing duplicate boarding passes is standard practice across almost all commercial airlines globally. Specific examples include:

  • United Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • American Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Air France
  • Lufthansa
  • Qantas
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Singapore Airlines

There are very few exceptions where airlines may issue only a single boarding pass, but this is extremely rare. The worldwide industry standard is duplication as a security best practice.


In summary, duplicate boarding passes are a standard worldwide airline practice to:

  • Provide backup passes in case of loss or errors
  • Allow verification of passengers at multiple points
  • Separate flows of boarding documents between staff and passengers
  • Increase security through redundancy

While duplication may seem unnecessary, it improves airline operations and the travel experience. The systems deter fraudulent use of boarding passes, rather than weakening security. It offers reassurance and convenience for passengers in case of misplaced documents. Overall, the humble duplicate boarding pass plays an important role in smooth, safe air travel.