What does an SSSS code on my airline boarding pass mean

Travelling by air - then take a look at your boarding pass and hope you don’t find SSSS printed on it. Here’s what it means and why it could signal big problems for your flight.

SSSS code on a boarding passFinding an SSSS code on your boarding pass could spell trouble for your trip (Credit: Definitelynotdodgy)

What is the SSSS code and who might see it?

The code only applies to travellers flying to and from the US. The SSSS code stands for “Secondary Security Screening Selection’. It is also obligatory for all passengers from certain countries.

How does the SSSS affect my?

Travellers with SSSS printed on their boarding pass have been selected for extra security screening by airport security. This means measures such as searched of hand luggage, pat-downs and being subject to scanners. Passengers will be swabbed for residue of illegal substances – such as drugs or explosives. It’s likely the passenger will also face additional questioning over travel plans and previous trips.

Why would I get an SSSS code on my boarding pass?

The scheme was put in place by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after the 911 attacks. It’s just one of the many mechanics in operation helping to make aviation safe for all of us.

Reasons that could see passengers put on the SSSS list include:

  • Travelling on a one-way ticket
  • Paying for a ticket in cash
  • Simply being picked at random

How can I check if I am going to get an SSSS code?

Passengers can’t check ahead, but it’s said that if the system prevents a traveller from printing their boarding pass in advance, then they could expect an SSSS on when it’s printed at the terminal.

Should I be worried by receiving a code?

Providing the passenger has nothing to hide, the SSSS code will simply be an inconvenience that is likely to add 10-30 minutes to the transition through airport security.

So, what should I do?

Just arrive up 30-40 minutes early, while remaining polite and patient.
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