Saturday, April 6, 2019

The dreaded four SSSS

There is nothing like travel surprises. Some are great, some not so much. The later was the case when I received a SSSS designation on my boarding pass. Below explains what this means, what you need to know, and how to possibly avoid it in the future.

Referred to as Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS), it means that you will be delayed in that trek to the bathroom, book store and your other pre-boarding rituals.

My first screening took 60 minutes. It can take as little as 15-30 minutes.You will be pulled out of general TSA screening. A supervisor will be called. You will wait. Most likely, there will be three TSA agents involved. It will feel awkward, but don't panic. Sometimes these screenings are random, so cooperate and know it is to help keep us all safe while flying.

You will get a full body pat down. Every item with you will be searched, thoroughly. Items will be swabbed. Once you are free to go, keep that stamped boarding pass. I repeat, do no lose this piece of paper! If you cannot produce it at the gate, you will be required to repeat this process. At the gate, you may be searched again or asked additional questions.
Side note - My checked luggage (which I rarely bring) was also pulled and searched. I found a nice note in my suitcase later telling me that it had been searched.

If you do not see the SSSS on your next trip, lucky you! The Scarlet Letter of Travel may have passed you by.

If you continue to receive the SSSS on future flights (as I did), the reasons are likely that you booked a last minute flight, purchased a one way ticket, have an unlucky name, or had erratic travel patterns. I guess not everyone appreciates the nomad wanderer. It is possible that you have been placed on a travel watch list.

What to do? Visit and apply for a redress number. Homeland Security will respond via letter within 50 days. If you receive a redress number, include it each time that you book a flight. In most cases, that will prevent at least one four letter word from ruining your day.

Happy travels!

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