Passengers whose boarding passes have “SSSS” are pre-selected to be subject to extra security screening checks – which may involve validating identity, pat-downs, bag searches and take up to thirty minutes – before boarding onto their flight.
A spokesman for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) told Business Insider in a statement:
“SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection and it appears on a passenger’s boarding pass when they’ve been selected by TSA’s Secure Flight system for enhanced security screening.
“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. Secure Flight is also used to prevent those on the No Fly List and the Centers for Disease Control’s Do Not Board List from getting on planes.”
This system was introduced after the 9/11 terror attacks to help security officials monitor potentially dangerous individuals from entering or leaving the U.S. The TSA insists travelers who receive the ‘SSSS’ are selected at random, but some have claimed they have pulled aside most times they travel.
— Tony Baker (TouringTony) 🏅 (@TouringTony) December 26, 2016
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) August 5, 2017
Passengers may be able to be aware if they’ll need to have additional checks if they’re not able to print their boarding pass at the airport’s self-check-in. Out of several factors that could get travelers the SSSS, a few notable ones are:
- If you book the ticket using cash.
- If you buy a one-way only ticket.
- If you’re returning from or flying to a high-risk country.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.