Wouldn’t you agree that one of the highlights of traveling by plane is going through airport security? We thought so. You plan for your trip but also have to plan for the extra wait time at check-in points.
And good grief, don’t run late or else you’ll be crossing your fingers as you jog through the gates, knowing that security is where you’ll get slowed down.
Although it’s a necessary step in keeping us safe, the TSA has earned itself an unflattering reputation for some of its touchy-feely monitoring practices.
Here in the states, you have to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s rules and requests or risk loss of your flying privileges, missing your flight, or worse. Screening passengers is routine, but do you ever wonder why someone gets flagged for extra checks?
One way they do that is with a small notation on your boarding pass that’s probably escaped your attention. But it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the TSA’s attention. If you see the code “SSSS” on your pass, that means you’re in for a longer screening experience.
It stands for “Secondary Security Screening Selection”, a designation that grants you up to an extra thirty minutes with TSA staff. You won’t be able to print your pass at home; a message will alert you that it will need to be printed at the airport. Count on being questioned, scanned, and having a thing or two squeezed or swabbed as well.
The measure was implemented years ago following 9/11 to prevent potentially threatening passengers from flying. Identified using the TSA’s Secure Flight System, these folks are selected in advance. According to the TSA, the system incorporates the use of certain travel lists and monitoring systems that helps them to identify risks.
Even if you’re not on any “watch lists”, it’s still possible for you to be chosen for additional screening at random. Additionally, it’s not unheard of for some passengers to get the code on their boarding pass every time they fly. One of the red flags for TSA is international travel to certain countries.
So, what should you do? First, make sure you build in extra time for the security check if you see this code on your boarding pass. Get to the airport earlier than planned and don’t stop to get a sandwich.
Comply with the additional search procedures without fighting. You may have the option of moving to a private area for a pat-down, but your belongings – including electronics – will undergo a thorough search too.
Once completed, you’ll receive a stamp on your boarding pass, which lets the gate folks know that you underwent additional screening.
Watch the video below to hear more about “SSSS”. If you suspect your name is on a travel watch list by mistake, or if you’re concerned about why you’ve received the code, contact the Department of Homeland Security. They have a program in place to address issues surrounding travelers and transportation hubs.
Did you already know about this code? Have you ever gotten the “SSSS” code on your boarding pass? What was your experience?