SSSS on a Boarding Pass: Secondary Security Screening Selection

Air travel security is a top priority for governments and airlines worldwide. While most passengers pass through standard security checks, some may be subject to additional scrutiny under a process known as Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS). In this blog post, we’ll explore what SSSS is, why passengers might be selected, and how to handle the process if you find yourself facing this extra layer of security.


What is Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS)?

Secondary Security Screening Selection, commonly abbreviated as SSSS, is an additional security measure implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States and other countries’ aviation authorities. Passengers selected for SSSS are subject to more thorough and time-consuming security checks than the standard procedures. 


The SSSS process may involve:


  • Additional questioning about your travel plans, background, and personal information
  • A thorough physical search of your luggage and personal belongings
  • Enhanced pat-downs or body scans
  • Explosive trace detection tests

Why are passengers selected for SSSS?

There are several reasons why a passenger may be selected for SSSS:


  1. Random selection: Some passengers are chosen at random for secondary screening to maintain an element of unpredictability in the security process.
  2. Travel patterns: Passengers with unusual or high-risk travel patterns, such as visiting certain countries or making last-minute bookings, may be selected for SSSS.
  3. Watchlists: Individuals on government watchlists or with similar names to those on watchlists could be flagged for secondary screening.
  4. Incomplete or inaccurate information: Providing incomplete or inaccurate information when booking your flight or applying for a visa can raise red flags and result in SSSS selection.

It’s important to note that being selected for SSSS does not necessarily mean that you are suspected of any wrongdoing. The process is designed to enhance overall security and ensure the safety of all travelers. I have been selected multiple times in Countries like Colombia and Brazil. I also had additional screenings when I arrived in the USA from Colombia and the Dominican Republic but I don’t believe those times were actually the SSSS.


How to handle SSSS if selected

If you are selected for Secondary Security Screening Selection, follow these tips to navigate the process smoothly:


  1. Stay calm and cooperative: Understand that the SSSS process is a routine security measure and not a personal accusation. Remain calm, polite, and cooperative with security personnel throughout the screening.
  2. Arrive early: Since secondary screening can be time-consuming, arrive at the airport well ahead of your scheduled departure time to avoid missing your flight.
  3. Have your documents ready: Ensure that you have all necessary travel documents, such as your passport, boarding pass, and any relevant visas, readily available for inspection.
  4. Be prepared for additional questioning: Be ready to answer questions about your travel plans, background, and personal information. Provide clear, concise, and accurate responses to facilitate the process.
  5. Seek assistance if needed: If you face any difficulties or concerns during the SSSS process, politely request to speak with a supervisor or a representative from your airline.
  6. Be Prepared to be Searched: Every time I have been selected they have searched me and swabbed my pockets and phone and laptop. One time they requested I turn the laptop on.



How to avoid getting SSSS on your Boarding Pass

While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid being selected for SSSS, you can take some steps to minimize the likelihood:


  • Ensure that your travel documents and booking information are complete, accurate, and up-to-date.
  • Sign up for trusted traveler programs, such as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which can help expedite the security process and reduce the chances of SSSS selection.
  • Maintain a consistent travel history and avoid high-risk travel patterns if possible.
  • Don’t be rude and answer all the questions the gate agent asks you when checking in

I have found that every time I have been selected I had some sort of problem with the gate agent while checking in for the flight. One time I fell asleep on the ride to the airport in Medellin. When I got there the agent was asking me all types of questions such as where did I go and how much were the tickets etc. Mind you she was asking me this after I just woke up so I was irritated. Next thing I know I had the SSSS on my boarding pass.


Before the flight boards, they call my name and take me downstairs to a room where about 8 Colombian police were. I look at the table and they already had all my checked bags on the table. The police went through all my stuff and dirty clothes looking intensely. The whole situation was very dramatic. After they didn’t find anything they took me back upstairs where I thought the process was finished. That is when they checked my backpack and carry-on luggage and swiped my phones and laptop and my shoe strings and pockets. Then they inserted the swab into a machine that made a lot of noise. After that, I was cleared to board the airplane.


Another time I was in Rio de Janeiro arguing about check-bag weight limits with the gate agent at check-in. The next thing I know she handed me my boarding passes and they had the SSSS on it lol. The process in Rio was not as intense as it was in Medellin Colombia.


 When I made this video I was not exactly sure what the SSSS was at the time. I was just upset that I kept getting selected for it lol. Now I have since educated my self and hope this blog post helps you understand also.



Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS) is an essential component of air travel security designed to ensure passenger safety. While the process can be inconvenient and time-consuming, understanding the purpose behind it and knowing how to navigate the screening can help alleviate stress and make your travel experience smoother. Remember to stay calm, cooperative, and prepared when facing SSSS, and enjoy your journey knowing that these measures contribute to a safer travel environment for all.


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