What Does SSSS On Your Boarding Pass or Airline Ticket Mean & What to Do? (June 2023)
Nobody wants to see “SSSS” on their boarding pass. Your goal at the airport is to get through security as quickly as possible; This designation almost guarantees that will not happen. Here is everything you need to know about “SSSS” and why you are being subject to it.
What Does SSSS Mean?
SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection; Ultimately, the TSA will pull you aside for additional inspection of your body and bags when going through airport security. You will see “SSSS” in all capital letters printed on your boarding pass.
If you’re going to be subject to secondary security screening selection, you may not be able to generate mobile boarding passes on your phone. You may also receive an error when printing your boarding pass at home.
Why is SSSS on My Boarding Pass?
Here are some reasons you may be subject to additional airport security screening procedures.
- Travelers from certain countries are automatically subject to it.
- Travelers with unusual or odd flight itineraries, including one-way international tickets or traveling to high-risk countries.
- Flights booked at the last minute, especially with cash
- Travelers on a government watch list; Those with a name identical to someone on a watch list may also be subject to SSSS.
- Random selection.
- Other unknown reasons.
I have only been subject to SSSS once. It was my first international trip and most likely completely random. Since I do not have a common name and do not take any one-way international trips, I have not seen it on my boarding pass since.
What Does the Additional Security Screening Process Entail?
The process starts with the initial TSA agent that checks your ID and scans your boarding pass. Here is what you can expect based on my experience.
- After scanning your boarding pass, the TSA agent will inform you that you must undergo additional security screening. They will pull you aside.
- They will instruct you to walk through a body scanner and a metal detector.
- The TSA agents will perform a full-body pat down. You may have the option to have this done in a private room.
- The TSA agents will inspect your carry-on bags. They may swab items. Electronics may need to be turned on.
- The TSA agents may ask questions about your trip itinerary, who packed your bag, etc.
Tips to Expedite the Additional Security Screening Process
The additional security screening process can last from five to 30 minutes or longer. Here are ways to potentially speed it up.
- Be polite to the TSA officers
- Follow directions
- If SSSS is on your boarding pass, let your travel companions pack your electronics in their bags.
- Neatly pack your bag. I recommend using packing cubes.
- Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing.
Additionally, I recommend showing up at the airport a little earlier than usual. While the additional security screening process should not take longer than 20-30 minutes, it could for unknown reasons.
Further Reading: Carry-On Bag Essentials and Getting Through TSA Airport Security Fast
The Vacationer Tip
Neatly pack your carry-on suitcase and personal item. Doing so makes it easy for the TSA officer to find everything. This can decrease the amount of time spent undergoing the additional screening.
Is it Bad if SSSS is on My Boarding Pass?
It’s usually more of an annoyance than anything. Unless you’re attempting to bring something illegal with you on the flight, you’ll just spend more time at security than usual. It does not mean you are on a watch list or suspected of something bad.
As a Member of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, Can I Still Be Subject to SSSS?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry members are not exempt from additional airport security screenings. I received SSSS on my boarding pass despite being a Global Entry member. As a TSA PreCheck member, you will not enjoy the usual benefits when being selected for additional screenings.
Can I Prevent SSSS From Showing On My Boarding Pass?
While you cannot completely prevent additional security screenings, you can decrease your odds. The best way is to apply for a Redress Control Number. Entering your redress number when booking flights allows the TSA’s secure flight program to match it with your case. Doing that helps to prevent additional security screenings if your name matches someone else’s on the watch list.
Additionally, you can avoid doing things like booking last-minute and one-way international flights. You can also avoid traveling to unusual or high-risk countries.
SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection.
Yes, seniors and minors may be subjected to Secondary Security Screening Selection
Yes, you may still be randomly selected.
Applying for a redress number can help.
No, those with first-class or business-class tickets may still have to undergo additional security screenings.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
While it may be stressful seeing “SSSS” on your boarding pass, it is usually not a big deal. Plan to spend a little extra time at security. Be courteous to the TSA officers. If SSSS is frequently on your boarding pass, consider applying for a redress number.
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