Blowes Travel & Cruise Centres Inc.'s Blog

Why you Should not Throw out Your Boarding Pass

The next time you’re thinking of throwing away a used boarding pass with a barcode on it, consider tossing the boarding pass into a document shredder instead. Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.

Earlier this year, I heard from a longtime KrebsOnSecurity reader named Cory who said he began to get curious about the data stored inside a boarding pass barcode after a friend put a picture of his boarding pass up on Facebook. Cory took a screen shot of the boarding pass, enlarged it, and quickly found a site online that could read the data.

“I found a website that could decode the data and instantly had lots of info about his trip,” Cory said, showing this author step-by-step exactly how he was able to find this information. ‘

“Besides his name, frequent flyer number and other [personally identifiable information], I was able to get his record locator (a.k.a. “record key” for the Lufthansa flight he was taking that day,” Cory said. “I then proceeded to Lufthansa’s website and using his last name (which was encoded in the barcode) and the record locator was able to get access to his entire account. Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance.”

The access granted by Lufthansa’s site also included his friend’s phone number, and the name of the person who booked the flight. More worrisome, Cory now had the ability to view all future flights tied to that frequent flyer account, change seats for the ticketed passengers, and even cancel any future flights.

The information contained in the boarding pass could make it easier for an attacker to reset the PIN number used to secure his friend’s Star Alliance frequent flyer account. For example, that information gets you past the early process of resetting a Star Alliance account PIN at United Airline’s “forgot PIN” Web site.

After that, the site asks for the answer to a pre-selected secret question. The question in the case of Corey’s friend was “What is your Mother’s maiden name?” That information can often be gleaned by merely perusing someone’s social networking pages (e.g., does your aunt or uncle on your mom’s side have your mother’s maiden name as their last name? If so, are they friends with you on Facebook?)

Finally, the standards for the boarding pass barcodes are widely available and have been for years. Check out this document (PDF) from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for more on how the barcode standards work and have been implemented in various forms.




Grape Expectations Toasting the French Paradox with Wine Immersion in Bordeaux

By Anita Draycott

I’d like to believe that there’s some truth to the “French paradox” theory. That’s why I’m soaking in a barrel bath of mineral water and red wine extracts at the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa on the Château Smith-Haut Lafitte wine estate in Bordeaux, France.

The term French Paradox was coined in 1992 by

Dr. Serge Renaud, a scientist from Bordeaux University after years of research. The paradox? The French consume one of the world’s richest diets, including gobs of butter and cream, unpasteurized cheeses and let’s not forget French pastries, yet they tend to be less obese, live longer and have lower rates of coronary heart disease than folks in other industrialized countries. 

The key to this phenomenon, postulated by Dr. Renaud, is their daily consumption of a glass or two of wine, preferably red, which contains powerful antioxidants that control blood pressure and reduce clots.

So, if those grapes work their magic internally, what about externally?  Coincidentally, in 1993 at the Château Smith Haut-Lafitte vineyards where Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas and her husband were taking part in the family grape harvest, they met Professor Vercauteren, the visiting head of the Bordeaux Pharmaceutical Laboratory. Seeing the heap of grape skins and seeds about to be discarded, Vercauteren remarked that they were wasting “a veritable treasure.”  Grape skins and pips are rich in polyphenols that fight free radicals that are responsible for wear and tear on the body and aging skin. Mathilde was intrigued. When she discovered a natural mineral spring under some of the vines, she decided to mix the therapeutic water with the grape extracts. Et voilà, the world’s first Vinothérapie Spa and a line of Caudalie skin care products was born. (Caudalie is a term that describes the length of a wine’s aftertaste on the palette. The more Caudalies the better.) Here at Les Source des Caudalie visitors can enjoy total wine immersion: spa treatments that include a Crushed Cabernet Scrub and Pulp Friction Sculpting Massage, award-winning wines from the estate and hospitality at one of France’s most charming country establishments.

It’s an “all in the family” collaboration between Mathilde who oversees the spa and product line, her sister Alice who designed and runs the hotel and parents Florence and Daniel Cathiard, ex members of the French National Ski team, who operate the organic winery.

Naturally there’s fine dining and a 15,000-bottle wine cellar. There’s even a bar called French Paradox in honour of the benefits of the grape.

What to Expect on a Norwegian Jewel Family Cruise

Norwegian loves families! Classified as part of Norwegian's "Jewel Class," the Norwegian Jewel offers some of the largest suites at sea as well as staterooms that can accommodate families, large or small.

Aside from its top class accommodation, a cruise at Norwegian Jewel promises no dull moment while on board. The highlights of this cruise ship include Sapphire Kid’s Pool and a Sports Complex. Families can also enjoy a spectacular acrobatic show at the Le Cirque Bijou or join activities at the Splash Academy and Entourage. Of course, the adults can also have loads of fun on this cruise with 16 dining options and 13 bars and night clubs on board. It definitely is a cruise for the family!

The Norwegian Jewel has four cruises that families can choose from: Alaska Cruises for an adventure-packed vacation, Pacific Coastal Cruises for forest excursions, lush gardens, and rugged coastlines, Mexican Riviera Cruises for those who want some beach time, and Weekend Cruises for those who want to slip away even for just a while.

Take some time off with the family! Book a vacation on one of the Norwegian Jewel cruises with a travel agent.

Why Should You See the Historical Ornate Temples?

From simple cave shrines, Hindu architecture has evolved into ornate temples across the Indian sub-continent; all have seen the history of the places on which they stand. If you have a liking towards history and majestic architecture from years ago, then your eyes will surely feast on the sight of historical ornate temples.

The history of these temples date back to the 1st century CE wherein Bhakti spread across the Indian sub-continent. The old Vedic gods were later on replaced by deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Brahma, and Devi, the worship of whom required temples for offerings. Buildings were constructed to house the sacred symbol of each god and decorated with sculptures of their mythological adventures. Here are some must-see Hindu temples:

  • Tanah Lot (Bali, Indonesia)
  • Kanchipuram Temples (Kanchipuram, India)
  • Brihadeeswarar Temple (Thanjavur, India)
  • Khajuraho (Khajuraho, India)
  • Banteay Srei (Angkor Wat, Cambodia)
  • Prambanan (Indonesia)
  • Meenakshi Amman Temple (India)

Feast on the stunning Hindu temples in the Indian sub-continent. Learn about the Hindu traditions, beliefs, and history, and bring home interesting stories to tell. Book a holiday near some of these amazing temples today!

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