Home Travel What All Those Letters & Numbers On Your Boarding Pass Mean

What All Those Letters & Numbers On Your Boarding Pass Mean

by SharonKurheg

If you look at your boarding pass, there are some things that are obvious. Your name. The date. The airline you’re using. Your departure and arrival information. Where you’re supposed to sit on the plane. Boarding time.  Boarding group. Simple stuff.

But then there are some things, usually a gobbledygook of letters and/or numbers that are not as easy to decipher. Here’s some help…

Passenger Name Reference (PNR)

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Somewhere on your boarding pass, there will be 6 characters (on the above pic it’s the H7XEBP). That’s your Passenger Name Reference (PNR) (sometimes called a reservation code) and the airline generated it when you made your reservation. If you call the airline to make any sort of change to your reservation, that’s the code you would give them. Keep in mind that on the airline’s end, typing in this code will bring up your name, flight information, meal preferences, any special services you’ve requested (like a wheelchair), etc. That’s one of the reasons why you don’t want to dispose of your boarding pass until you’re somewhere where you can shred it (or at least rip it up into a bajillion pieces) – to maintain the confidentiality of personal information. And for heaven’s sake, don’t ever do this with your boarding pass, either!

Single Letter


A single letter on a boarding pass shows what class of ticket you bought. Most airlines have different fare classes, which are represented by different letters of the alphabet. F usually stands for first-class and C or J typically means business class. If you’re flying economy class, chances are you’d have a Y or Q on your boarding pass. The letters usually aren’t arbitrary and can vary from airline to airline. For example, that C for the business class came about from when Pan Am was still around – they had class of service called “Clipper Class,” which was for business and full-fare economy passengers.

That one little letter can tell airline employees information like how much you paid for your ticket, how many frequent flyer miles you’ll get for the flight, and the amount of flexibility you have to change your reservation. Airlines, reservation systems and travel agents often use fare classes to keep track of tickets sold and fare class availability.


If you see SSSS (Secondary Security Screen Selection) on your boarding pass, it means you won lost the TSA lottery and will have to go through some extra security measures when you go through the TSA checkpoint. Click here for more info about it.

Other Things You May See

The above examples are things that are on just about everyone’s boarding pass. Here are a few things that will only be on the boarding passes of specific travelers with specific plane activities:

Codeshare information

If you bought your ticket via one airline but it’s on another airline (more info about that is here), information about that codesharing would be on your boarding pass.


An overseas flight that is expected to be 6 hours or more.

Open Jaw

When a passenger departed from one city but is returning to a different city.


Nope, not “significant other” ;-). A S/O on your boarding pass means you’re going to have a stopover.


Stopover paid by carrier. Boy, didn’t YOU luck out – the airline is going to pay for your hotel because your connection is just THAT far away in the future.

There are other things that airline employees can tell from all those letters and numbers that are kept under more wraps. You know, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you” sort of stuff. But the above is a pretty good idea of what we, as passengers, would ever need or want to know 🙂

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Michael R Karpiel December 14, 2020 - 4:44 pm

Please correct to PNR not PRN which is the correct abbreviation for Passenger Name Record.


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