What Does It Mean When Your Boarding Pass Has ‘SSSS’ Stamped On It?
Except for a few brief years when the world was shut down by an invisible virus I have been traveling. The blessings of my life have allowed me to see such exotic places as Tahiti and Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, almost all of Europe, some of Asia, a touch of Africa and a few hard to explain hours in Alabama.
I say that to say this, I think I have experienced just about every kind of issue you can have in, around, on, and near an aircraft. I have been poked, prodded, searched, shuffled, and subliminally seduced by the touch of TSA employees in this country and airport security in others.
What I have discovered in my journeys is that people do better when they know what's about to happen to them. For example, if the airline tells you your flight has been delayed and then allows you to approach the desk to ask about rebooking or changing flights that might be affected by the delay, you feel better.
Now, just imagine if you knew when you were about to be pulled out of the TSA line for an additional search?
Believe it or not, that information is often made available on your boarding pass. The clue shows up in the form of four letters. Those letters are "SSSS". They stand for Secondary Security Screening Selection. And that is exactly what you think it means.
If you're designated for SSSS then your time in the security area of the airport will be extended. One other tip-off that you've been included in the additional security screening will come if you try to print your boarding pass or claim your boarding pass online. In many cases, passengers who have been randomly selected for secondary screening won't be able to capture that particular travel document from online sources.
What you can expect during the screening is a search of your luggage. There will be a wipe down of handles and other exposed surfaces too. Those wipe downs are used to detect flammable, explosives, and even illegal narcotics. So, if you're going to fill up your car with gas on the way to the airport, make sure you wash your hands really good.
You'll also spend a few extra minutes with security personnel who will ask you more detailed questions about your travels, your destination, your reason for traveling, and the places you may have already traveled to. In most cases, the SSSS designation is not used on domestic flights in the United States. For the most part, that designation comes on international flights that are entering the United States.
If you want to make the process as painless as possible be as cooperative as possible. Many security agents note your behavior as a reason to search more or less during the course of your security screening. So, be nice and you'll make your gate and your flight in plenty of time.
And if you're planning on staying closer to home and won't need an airport, you might give one of these places a try.
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