I Got The Dreaded SSSS On My Boarding Pass & It Wasn’t So Bad

SSSSLast week, the Michael W Travels family flew home from Barcelona to NYC with a stop in London.

During our journey, we encountered a flight delay which caused some issues. (Possibly more on that another time…)

When looking over our boarding passes, four letters stood out for my flight from London (LHR) to New York (JFK), SSSS.

It’s been a few years since those dreaded letters showed up on my boarding pass.

For those of you unfamiliar with the SSSS on a boarding pass, it means that you’ll be subjected to a very thorough, annoying and uncomfortable security screening.

SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection, according to wikipedia.

In the past when I’ve had SSSS show up on my boarding pass, I was separated from my family. Every item in my bag was removed, (some things were swabbed) and I recall being patted down, which is definitely not fun. I think I was also asked various questions.

I was a bit annoyed when I saw the letters this time and expected a very annoying and irritating experience but surprisingly, it wasn’t bad!

Let me preface this by saying that my additional SSSS screening was done by the gate for our flight home to NYC.

I prepared for the screening by giving Kim my laptop to hold. I also had Kim and Lucas take our carry-on. The only thing that I had with me was my backpack which didn’t have many items inside.

When I was pulled to the side after my ticket was scanned, two friendly agents told me to take my shoes off. My sneakers were immediately swabbed and given back to me to put on in under a minute.

One agent emptied a couple of things from my bag and wiped the inside for testing while the other wiped my hands to test.

Within another minute or so, I was thanked and told everything was fine.

There was no uncomfortable pat-downs or questioning. I said to Kim that the additional screening wasn’t much more than I’d expect at security if something set off the scanner.

While I hope to never get those dreaded letters again, it was nice to see this additional screening get done quickly and with a smile.

5 thoughts on “I Got The Dreaded SSSS On My Boarding Pass & It Wasn’t So Bad

  1. Had SSSS on my boarding pass in Zurich recently on a Delta flight. Gate agent announced my name and told me to come to the podium. This was just as business class started board. I was in SkyPriority. They checked my bags then sent me through to the plane — before SkyPriority had started to board. So, I did benefit from the dreaded SSSS.

  2. Jeremiah- What kind of delay did you encounter due to the airport staff’s lack of knowledge about SSSS?

    Brian Cohen- Sounds like your extra screening was similar to mine. Not too bad…

  3. Try flying with a SSSS through a smaller regional airport where they don’t encounter it very often.

    I’d gotten SSSS after traveling a two-one-way itinerary to Turkey. Going through LGA and HOU afterwards wasn’t too much of an obstacle (although obviously a PITA), but when I was flying out of BNA on business it took them almost an hour to process me since the TSA agents on staff didn’t seem very familiar with the procedures they needed to follow.

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