How much flight information is on a credit card statement
October 25, 2009 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I am buying a plane ticket with my credit card and someone else has access to my credit card statements. How much information about my flight will that person be able to get?

With my name and credit card number, would someone be able to look up what flight I'm on? Will my flight number show up on the credit card statement?
posted by thewestinggame to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not in my experience (Visa, Canada). Just "West Jet", a transaction number, and an amount.
posted by Beardman at 1:57 PM on October 25, 2009

Even if it doesn't show up on the statement, somebody who was authorized on the card might be able to call the airline and get more information about the flight. I can't tell from the question whether you're looking for "abusive ex" or "birthday surprise" level secrecy here, but if it's the former you could use your credit card to purchase a gift credit card for yourself (I know US Bank sells them, not sure who else,) then buy the ticket with that, so only the gift card purchase would show up on the statement the person can access.
posted by contraption at 2:08 PM on October 25, 2009

Flight numbers generally do not show up on the statement, but if someone had physical access to your card, they could swipe it at one of the kiosks (depending on the airline) at the airport and pull up information regarding the flight.
posted by nitsuj at 2:09 PM on October 25, 2009

I think Beardman is right in that it will probably not be printed on the statement.

However, if this person has access to your statement, I am guessing he or she may have access to other personal info like your birthdate or social. If so, it will be easy enough for this person to call the airline or login to the airline's website pretending to be you. At which point they can find out everything.

Don't really know the scenario or how much detective work they might be willing to do, but just keep in mind a lot is possible with this kind of access to your bill.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:10 PM on October 25, 2009

Many airlines let you look up flight confirmations by credit card number. Your flight number will not show up on the CC statement, but the name of the airline or travel agency will appear. With some reasonable guesswork and the magic words "I forgot my confirmation number," someone can probably get your flight info without much difficulty.

As I see it, there are a couple of possibilities here:

* You're looking to surprise someone without tipping your hand in advance. You could open up a free checking account at any local bank, obtain a debit card, and charge the tickets to that. Applying for a credit card in your name only is another option. You might be able to buy a prepaid debit card of a sufficient amount for the flight. Or ask a friend to charge the flight and cut him/her a check. Happy surprising!

* You're running away from someone or something entirely worth running away from, some kind of horrible situation. I strongly encourage you to cut off your credit card statements from whoever you are fleeing, as they will soon be able to figure out where you are based on your charges, or cut off your card (the words "it's lost or stolen" are taken quite seriously by CC companies), or otherwise cause you great havoc.

* You're doing something silly. If the person with access to your credit card statements doesn't seek to do you harm and is willing to put in the effort to figure out where you're going (and you're not planning some great exciting surprise), perhaps it would be more efficient to just tell him/her what's what. You're an adult and can certainly make your own decisions, but part of being an adult is generally telling people where you're going. Do consider just telling whoever is involved that you are traveling somewhere.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2009

Best answer: It's possible, but it's not always easy. Your billing statement will show the airline you're flying on, often along with the ticket number. In my experience, part of the ticket number tends to get cut off. However, some airlines make it possible to look these things up via more roundabout ways.

For example, I fly primarily with American Airlines, so I'm pretty familiar with their website. I can go to the refunds page and enter my credit card number, last name, and a range of dates for potential travel, and the site will pull up all matching reservation ticket numbers. I can subsequently punch my last name and ticket number into the refund request box, which pulls up detailed information about my itinerary.

So, it's possible. But the ease of doing so may vary from airline to airline.

(On preview, right, and the kiosks and such. And these are just the ways to look up the reservation without having to deal with a live agent.)
posted by SpringAquifer at 2:17 PM on October 25, 2009

Best answer: United, for example, explicitly allows you to lookup flight info with just name and credit card number.
posted by zachlipton at 2:21 PM on October 25, 2009

Response by poster: I'm going for christmas present surprise-level secrecy. The person knows I'm coming to visit but doesn't know quite when and they don't have access to my physical card. It sounds like it would be possible but not overly easy to find out my exact flight so I think it'll be fine. Thanks mefi!!
posted by thewestinggame at 2:22 PM on October 25, 2009

If your credit card is affiliated with a rewards program, sometimes they do give a great amount of detail. For example, my Mastercard gives me extra points specifically for booking air travel, and so all the flight information, dates, flight number etc are spelled out there on the statement for me, and the statement flags it as "ooh! special reward points!" so it's hard to miss.
posted by ambrosia at 2:24 PM on October 25, 2009

My AmEx shows all the transaction details for flights I book, including date of departure, passenger name, cities, stopovers, ticket number, and I believe arrival and departure times as well.
posted by hindmost at 2:25 PM on October 25, 2009

I have seen flight details on a credit card statement that I have held in my own hands. Three different tickets on one statement. They contained departure and arrival cities.

The tickets were purchased with Expedia, using a Citibank card that accrued American Airlines miles.

I hope you are not cheating.
posted by beingresourceful at 2:26 PM on October 25, 2009

Best answer: I'm looking at my Discover card statement online right now which I use only for plane tickets. I have two tickets on this month's statement. When I get the print statement, it gives me very little information (name of vendor mostly and a transaction number). When I look at my statement online, I am able to view the airline name and the flight numbers/times for each leg of the flight. Just FYI.
posted by jessamyn at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2009

Someone used my Amex credit card number to buy a ticket once. The online statement showed all the flight info including the passenger name.

If you need to do this secretly, you might want to get a prepaid debit card, use PayPal, etc.
posted by jrockway at 2:42 PM on October 25, 2009

Confirming that at least on American Express statements, the statement shows EVERYTHING. (Flight numbers, passenger name, etc..).
posted by dcjd at 3:02 PM on October 25, 2009

While my employer, and any other airline I've ever dealt with as a travel agent, will print only the basic details of a transaction (my employer is just our airline's name, a transaction ID, and a contact number), we'll give out the full details of a flight to any person that calls and can provide the last 4 digits of the credit card number. We'll even give out the details of the flight with less information (any 2 pieces of 'secure' information, including but not limited to the phone number or e-mail address on the reservation).

This is true of every airline I've dealt with in a travel agent position, at least.

So while it's not out in the open, 3 minutes on hold will get anyone curious enough to investigate anything they'd ever want to know.
posted by Rendus at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2009

I have an airline rewards Visa, and it shows pretty much everything for flights, like ambrosia says above. Dates, flight numbers for each flight, cities flown through, etc.
posted by BlooPen at 6:17 PM on October 25, 2009

I have looked at some recent credit card statements and have found that the following airlines all caused their ticket number to show up on my credit card statement: American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, United, Southwest, British Airways. In fact, every airline I saw on these statements that does business in America did. This may be what people are referring to as a "transaction number," which I think of as something else.

As others have noted, this is probably enough for your acquaintance to find out all the details they wish, just by calling up the airline, or in at least one case, using the airline's web site.
posted by grouse at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2009

I was able to find out what flights had been fraudulently booked on my corporate credit card from the information on the statement. However, at a glance, you'd just see the airline, and not the actual flight details.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:22 PM on October 25, 2009

contraption: "Even if it doesn't show up on the statement, somebody who was authorized on the card might be able to call the airline and get more information about the flight."

See also: Social Engineering
posted by IndigoRain at 11:25 PM on October 25, 2009

I use American Express, and file my expenses exclusively from their statements. When you download the online printout, it gives very specific flight details: departure airport, destination, flight number, airline.

I don't think it shows on the paper statements, but if they check online, they'll see it easily.
posted by mtstover at 4:29 AM on October 26, 2009

I've got a Visa statement here that shows airline, flight dates, and to-and-from cities for my lat ticket purchase. Definitely would blow the secret.
posted by bink at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2009

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