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  • Have you ever noticed the four lettersSSSSprinted on your boarding pass?

  • Some people have, and it has often led to some frustrating and lengthy airport delays.

  • So for those who are lucky enough to not know what it is and have never experienced it, what does this four letter code mean?

  • In short, the code SSSS is used on domestic and international US flights to indicate that additional security screening should be carried out.

  • Airport security in many countries was beefed up significantly after the events of 2001.

  • The US Transport Security Administration (or TSA) was formed at this time, and has increased security since with several schemes, including the Secure Flight program.

  • The use ofSSSScodes has been formalized and strengthened under this, but its use is reported before then as well

  • According to TSA: "Secure Flight is a risk-based passenger prescreening program that enhances security

  • by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watchlists."

  • Passengers are screened for security using government databases and their travel information.

  • This can result in several actionsof course, travel could be denied and law enforcement involved in the most severe cases,

  • while passengers identified as being of increased risk and requiring extra checks will have the codeSSSSprinted prominently on their boarding pass.

  • Security and border agents then know to apply enhanced security checks.

  • This is used by TSA on all US domestic flights and international flights from the US.

  • Several factors influence the use ofSSSS,’ but the exact processes and decisions are not made public for obvious security reasons.

  • Being on security watchlistsincluding the FBI counter-terrorism watchlistis sure to trigger the code

  • Other factors might include the booking of one-way trips, booking flights last minuteor frequent recent travel.

  • Travel between certain airports, or to or from certain countrieswill make it more likely as well.

  • Discrepancies between boarding pass and passport or ID information could also be to blame.

  • Additionally, ‘SSSSis sometimes assigned at random

  • Extra security checks are, of course, good in the overall scheme of improving securitybut for individual passengers, they can be frustrating.

  • Having the code on your boarding pass will likely subject you to more checks and a longer time to clear security.

  • These are not usually carried out separately, but will delay you as part of the main security screening

  • Extra screening might mean additional scans, a more thorough check of luggageand taking swabs from your hands, clothes, or baggage to check for narcotics or explosives.

  • Agents are also likely to ask you questions about your travel, and you may have to wait while additional passport or identity checks are carried out

  • One of the problems withSSSSis the same travelers tend to get selected repeatedly.

  • Fortunately, there are some ways to address thisalthough nothing is guaranteed, and you may still be highlighted for security reasons.

  • Joining the TSA PreCheck program is reported to help

  • There is also a US Homeland Security process for addressing security problems, includingSSSS’ codes and issues with watchlists.

  • The DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program allows travelers to report issues with boarding and airport securityissues that will be investigated and evaluated

  • Have you ever seenSSSSon your boarding passWhat extra checks did you experienceLet us know by leaving a comment.

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Have you ever noticed the four lettersSSSSprinted on your boarding pass?

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