Why It’s Important To Understand What It Means If Your Boarding Pass Has “SSSS” Written On It

Updated September 22, 2017

Air travel can be stressful. But if you have “SSSS” on your boarding pass, be prepared for a terrible time going through security. Not only must you take off your shoes and your jacket. Remove your laptop from the case and make sure you have all your liquids carefully packed in a ziplock bag. If you see the dread “SSSS” printed on your boarding pass, you’re in for a security shock. You’ve been selected as one of the lucky participants for the “Secondary Security Screening Selection.” And that means anyone marked with this code has to deal with another round of security clearance. BOO!

People who are flying into the United States are most likely to get this marker on the boarding pass. Because the person has been flagged as a potential threat, they need to go through additional security screening. So if you’re running late to your flight and you see “SSSS” on your boarding pass, you might as well turn around right now. You’re going to be held up in the security check for a while. Or if you really want to get to your destination, you need to make arrangements for a later flight. The secondary security clearance could take a long time if you have anything you shouldn’t have on your person.

Another warning sign that you’ve been selected for the “special” security check is a hold up when you’re trying to print your boarding pass. If you can’t get it printed at one of the airline kiosks, you might be getting hit with the four letters you don’t want to see on your paper pass.

TSA continues to claim that travelers are being hit with the “SSSS” randomly, most passengers who get it report noticing a pattern. Certainty passengers, especially those with Middle Eastern sounding names have been pulled over most times  when they travel – it seems the randomization heavily favors these groups of people.

While you will have to go through the normal security clearance, when you get the “SSSS” on your pass, you’ll be pulled aside and patted down like a criminal. The TSA will want to check your person, your bags and even revalidate your identity. The second check can take a while.

The TSA gets worried when people purchase one-way tickets or pay in cash. These “warning signs” land passengers on the “SSSS” list far more often than others. Although the TSA says it is random, this admission seems to prove otherwise.

While some people are wondering if they have the right to deny the second security check, they do. But the TSA will deny them access to the plane unless they comply with their rigid rules.

The security plan was introduced after 9/11 a decade and a half ago.

But now that passengers know what “SSSS” means. They are growing annoyed that the second security check is targeting them over and over again. It delays a lot of passengers who are peaceful people just looking to get on the flight fast.

One Twitter user wrote, “TSA, why do you SSSS me every time I travel to the Mideast? Come on already, can’t Americans travel freely without harassment?”