What is SSSS on a AA Boarding Pass | Australian Frequent Flyer
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What is SSSS on a AA Boarding Pass

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garyjohn951

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In June, 3 of us did some flights between Washington and Caribbean. On checking in at Dulles, my wife's BP had SSSS at right hand bottom. She got the full search, body, all hand luggsge searched. My Daughter and myself the normal. On a return flight from Barbados to San Juan on the way to St Maartin, the BP for SJX - SJM again had on her BP - SSSS. Again same treatment. By now we realised this may happen while we continue travelling in and out of US airports. Yes, on return to Dulles via San Juan a week later, you guessed it, the San Juan to Dulles again SSSS. However this time she went thru with only her small handbag. Daughter and I shared the rest of her stuff. But it happened a 4th time, on the shuttle Reagan to JFK. Again she had no hand luggage.
Doesn't some like a good security system to me.
 

NM

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It means the airline has selected the owner of the boarding pass for secondary security screening. There are a number of factors that will cause someone to be flagged for secondary screening, but of course they won't tell us exactly what they are. Speculation shows the following are influencing factors:
  • How the ticket was purchased (cash, credit card etc)
  • Where the ticket was purchased
  • How long before travel it was purchased
  • Country of residency/citizenship
  • One-way vs round-trip ticket
  • Membership of the airline's FF program
  • Direction of prevailing wind at the time of ticket purchase
It is all pre-determined by the airline's computer system before you check in and is not manually triggered by the check-in agent. I believe it cannot be changed by the check-in agent. There is a very good chance that if they computer has selected someone once, they will be selected again if the tickets are purchased in the same manner.

I used to get it regularly when travelling on ATW tickets (seen as a series of one-way flights), but did not get it at all on my last trip when using my AA FF account instead of my QF account for the flights.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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On another board some people have posted success in getting SSSS removed from their BP upon changing seat or FFP #.
 

garyjohn951

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The SSSS ticket holder was on a RTW freebie in Business, booked 12 mouths out. Is a QC member / silver. Others in party were on RTW Business and RTW Economy.
Had been to US three previous. Hawaii 10 yrs ago, NY 6 yrs and SF 3 years ago.
However the internal flights in US were on a paid for ticket. Decision to go to Caribbean was made months after Free booking. The other two had those sectors in RTW schedule.

Maybe they thought a 54 yr old home domestics person travelling on their own was a security risk ?
 

NM

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garyjohn951 said:
The SSSS ticket holder was on a RTW freebie in Business, booked 12 mouths out. Is a QC member / silver. Others in party were on RTW Business and RTW Economy.
Had been to US three previous. Hawaii 10 yrs ago, NY 6 yrs and SF 3 years ago.
Previous visits do not stop the SSSS appearing. I have been to the LOTFAP well over 30 times and still get it.
garyjohn951 said:
However the internal flights in US were on a paid for ticket. Decision to go to Caribbean was made months after Free booking. The other two had those sectors in RTW schedule.
In that case the free ATW ticket has no bearing. The profiling system probably didn't even know about the ATW itinerary, only the immediate flight concerned.
garyjohn951 said:
Maybe they thought a 54 yr old home domestics person travelling on their own was a security risk ?
Such profiling is not permitted. They are forbidden by law to select people for secondary screening based on age, race etc. And its quite likely that the system making the SSSS decision did not know her age, occupation or travelling partner situation. All they see is the reservation and ticketing details and the decision was made long before she arrived at the airport.

I have had it enough times to know that it takes an extra 5 mins to get through security screening, but has never been an unpleasant experience.
 

Damien

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NM said:
I have had it enough times to know that it takes an extra 5 mins to get through security screening, but has never been an unpleasant experience.
I would have to agree. It's easiest to just be pleasant and remember that they are only doing their jobs. I've always found them to be friendly, and it is only a few extra minutes.
 

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Damien said:
I would have to agree. It's easiest to just be pleasant and remember that they are only doing their jobs. I've always found them to be friendly, and it is only a few extra minutes.
Exactly. Doing their jobs and looking for the bad people. As I don't fit into that category and have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear. I would rather see the more detailed searches being done regularly, than have people skipped just because they don't look like a possible terrorist.
 

garyjohn951

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I have no problem being pleasant, in fact we went out of our way to do so, but as for a few minutes, the first one at Dulles was 10 mins at the First Class checkin counter.
1. We handed over tickets and passports. CI person brought them up on the screen and then proceeded with a security person behind desk for us to [a] specify which in hold case was for which person. Also we had to define what hand luggage belonged to each person.
2. My on board luggage and my daughters were taken thru, we were handed BP's. The the security person asked my wife to accompany him approx 100 yds to an xray unit with her in hold luggage only. that took 10 mins due to long queue at xray machine.
3. Arrival at Security check-in. My wife is taken aside with her carry-on bag, camera bag and handbag. She is searched no problem with that and that did take only 1 minute. Then the security people emptied every item from all three bags, and opened every container, etc. Then placed them all in a container and showed my wife where she could repack the 3 bags from scratch. All told from her entering the scurity area to coming out was 20 mins. I might add she was not the only one, others had the same experience.
So it was more than a couple of minutes.
 

garyjohn951

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I forgot to add, that the first time it happened we accepted it as part of anti-terr, but by the fourth time it was enough and thats why the fourth time she didn't take any hand luggage with her. I thought their selection was random.
 

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garyjohn951 said:
I forgot to add, that the first time it happened we accepted it as part of anti-terr, but by the fourth time it was enough and thats why the fourth time she didn't take any hand luggage with her. I thought their selection was random.
Your experience is a little different to mine, but I have always been checking-in alone so maybe that is why I have not had the extra treatment at check-in (it all my baggage, no need to identify whose is whose).

I have not had it affect delays in screening checked bags before. But I do note that different airports handle the screening of checked bags in different ways. I don't think I have had the SSSS treatment at Dulles yet - most of my IAD trips were pre-TSA and I think I have only been here once since 9/11. My LAX and DFW experiences have been fine.

I also believe the thoroughness of the secondary screening is in proportion to the current terror alert status in the USA. I am not sure what the current status is, but I have seen differences between their yellow and orange status levels. So perhaps your experience was affected by that :confused:.

Knowing that SSSS has a strong probability to be repeated, she was wise to not have much in the way of carry-on bags for subsequent trips. Hand them all to you before approaching the check-in counter :!:.
 

Dave Noble

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The whole SSSS scheme seems flawed to me. Surely telling someone that they are being selected for secondary screening just ensures that anyone with something iffy can sort it out before reaching the screening point

Dave
 

acampbel

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Dave Noble said:
The whole SSSS scheme seems flawed to me ...
That would have to be the understatement of the week! My wife and I copped the treatment during a trip to Hawaii in 2002. We were on an internal flight to Maui and tried to get to the gate early because there were no allocated seats. My suspicions about the **** on our boarding passes was confirmed when we were pulled aside at the gate and given the shoe and hand-luggage search. This meant we were last on the plane and not only couldn't get a window seat for the view, but also had to sit across the aisle from each other. After our holiday we checked in at Maui and again got the ****, so when we got to the gate I went up to the security table and showed our BPs. "You may as well search us now so that we have a chance to sit together", I said. I got a blank look and a "Please join the queue, sir". So we joined the queue, were pulled aside at the gate, given the shoe-search (because the expert intelligence they had identified all bombs as being hidden in shoes), and were again last on the plane.

In both cases we appeared to be the only foreigners on the flight, so I guess we fitted their highly sophisticated profiling system.

Why does the term "mindless knob-fondlers" come to mind when talking about the various USA security services?


Cheers,


Andrew

<EOT>
 

clifford

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Damien said:
I would have to agree. It's easiest to just be pleasant and remember that they are only doing their jobs. I've always found them to be friendly, and it is only a few extra minutes.
Not sure what you guys are doing to get the SSSS treatment. I fly to/through the US many times a year (I am a Mileage Plus 1K, Million Miler) and have never been subjected to it.

Maybe it will happen next month, as I have booked a one-way flight LAX-LAS. Oh, what fun.

:(
 

GDSman

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One of the triggers for SSSS is the making of a late change - to flight or seat. So a move from a pre-assigned seat to another (to sit next to a colleague as happened to me) will typically trigger the rubber glove treatment.
 

Mal

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SSSS = Super Special Security Search.

If you're an elite FF flyer with the airline involved and have previous flying history with them, then try and ask for it to be over-ruled by a supervisor.
 

garyjohn951

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Actually that last post may be near the point. As we were flying to and from Caribbean nearly everyone on board the flights were american citizens.
 
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Kiwi Flyer

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acampbel said:
In both cases we appeared to be the only foreigners on the flight, so I guess we fitted their highly sophisticated profiling system.
We've had similar experience on intra-Hawaii flights. All foreigners without exception searched (multiple times). All non-foreigners allowed to board without search. :rolleyes:
 

Kiwi Flyer

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clifford said:
Not sure what you guys are doing to get the SSSS treatment. I fly to/through the US many times a year (I am a Mileage Plus 1K, Million Miler) and have never been subjected to it.

Maybe it will happen next month, as I have booked a one-way flight LAX-LAS. Oh, what fun.

:(
You are flying mostly on UA right? The status helps protect you from being randomly selected.

I've had lots of oddball itineraries to, from and within US; and generally as long as I have high status entered I don't get SSSS. That includes one way trips, turnarounds, last minute purchases and changes, etc. This on several airlines both US-based and non-US-based.
 

clifford

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Hi Kiwi,

Let's hope you're right.

In any case, I will be prepared, with appropriate countermeasures ready to be deployed.

All the best,
clifford.
 

Dave Noble

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clifford said:
Hi Kiwi,

Let's hope you're right.

In any case, I will be prepared, with appropriate countermeasures ready to be deployed.

All the best,
clifford.
I wouldn't worry about it. On my trip through the USA recently I had SSSS a couple of times. All it did was add a couple of minutes at security while I sat down and they did their additional checks; nothing particularly onorous

Dave
 
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