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The demise of SSSS on boarding passes?

I got selected for secondary security screening at Frankfurt last week on my flight to Atlanta. It surprised me because I hadn't noticed the dreaded SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) on my boarding pass. After the strip search (hyperbole), I intently looked at my boarding pass -- no SSSS or [asterisk]S[asterisk] that apparently had been used some, too. Just an electronic notification at the gate when the gate agent scanned my boarding pass.

Posted by
16778 posts

I have had that at Zurich when I checked in at the gate for a flight back to the US. They generally pick on people who get there early so they won't delay boarding, Swiss don't like anything to delay a schedule. Nobody who rushes up after a late connection gets picked.

They took me behind a welding curtain and the Swiss security guy went through all my carry-ons with the attitude that everything he saw was perfectly normal, prescription meds, chargers and cables for computer and mobil phone. Another clerk came and took my boarding pass and left when she came back she held the boarding pass about 6" from my face and asked "Is this your boarding pass?" After I took a step back, I could finally read it and said "Yes." and she then handed it to me and left. The security man then rolled his eyes and made a very derogatory remark at her expense, then said "Its your own government that makes us do this and we have to keep them happy." The implication was that this whole exercise was a giant waste of his time and mine. With that he wished me a pleasant flight and I returned to the general population milling around the boarding gate.

Posted by
13542 posts

In Houston on the way to Istanbul
Just the dog in the jetway went nutz over my shoulder bag. Guard laughed and asked how much cash I had. Told him about 100,000 Hungarian Forints in 1,000 forint bills (about $300). Guard laughed louder and sent me on my way. Dog disappointed (it was a currency dog - who knew?)

Going through Istanbul on a return to Houston
Full security check with baggage x-rayed and body scan. About 50% got wanded too.
COVID Test check and Passport Check outside of gate waiting area
Second COVID check and Passport Check outside of gate area
Carry on luggage and passport search inside of gate area
Passport and COVID Test check when boarding plane.

Great fun. No complaints.

Posted by
4462 posts

Oh, the dreaded SSSS! I had it when boarding Malpensa a few years back to come home to Seattle and during a flight to Cambodia a few weeks later.

At Malpensa, they opened my carry-on suitcase on a small table. My sweater was on top and everything else in RS mesh packing cubes. The person’s suitcase next to mine had all of the items haphazardly tossed out of it, and the owner was supposed to hurry and move everything to clear that table. I was picturing my neatly packed contents with the same fate. But instead, he picked up my sweater, saw the rest of the items packed neatly and told me to take the suitcase. Whew!

Posted by
3024 posts

In Frankfurt, the secondary screening was benign. He looked at my carryon, had me take off my shoes, patted down my feet/lower legs), and did an explosive wipe on my shoes. I was wearing my water-proof hiking boots that hadn’t been freshened in a few days. I apologized for the smell.

The secondary screening, of course, is security theater courtesy of the US government. It makes sense, though, to take the marker off the boarding pass if the theater exists so that people don’t know it’s coming. If you know and have nefarious plans, it seems like you would just hand off the nefarious stuff to your nefarious companion who has a clean boarding pass.

Posted by
3186 posts

Even though I have Trusted Traveler, this happens to me every time I go through Kennedy. Have I said how much I hate that airport?

Posted by
425 posts

Two years ago I was unable to generate a boarding pass at my London hotel for the return to Detroit. Of course the reason was that I had been flagged with the dreaded SSSS. The hotel clerk told me that it "happens all the time" and knew what was likely to happen.

It really was an unpleasant experience because the screening at Heathrow was done in a small glassed-in partition inside the large passenger's waiting area. Everyone waiting is watching what goes on behind the glass. I was rather taken aback when they told me to lift my shirt in front of that audience. Fortunately I am in fine shape but it's still rather embarrassing. Should it happen again I think I will ask for the more private option. The worst part is that we travel carry on only which means I had scientifically fit as much as I possibly could into my carry on and personal bags. They made me take out each item one by one and even examined inside my camera's cleaning tissues. It took me a very long time to get everything to fit again. They kept pushing my items over the edge of the table which made me take even longer repacking. The line for SSSS was becoming longer and longer. I felt bad for the screeners doing such an unpleasant unrewarding job.

The experience was made worse because our original flight had been canceled due to weather (most of the flights that morning were canceled) and we lost our comfort plus seats and could only get economy bulkhead seats on the next available flight 6 hours later. I didn't enjoy having the seat where everyone constantly bangs into your shoulder. Luckily we had arrived early enough to be among the few people who could get the next available so we were thankful for that. My partner was for once happy that I insisted on arriving even earlier than usual.

It was a long frustrating day. Now I dread having to repack my carry on in a hurry again.

Posted by
2466 posts

Ugh, we just went through that In Amsterdam. They tested our zippers, shoes, top of our socks, jackets. They didn’t go through our bag though, thank goodness. The worse part was I wanted to use the restroom before boarding and they wouldn’t let us out of the screening area. We had to wait there till we boarded. Luckily is wasn’t very long but very frustrating. They said we were coming from Zagreb and that’s why we were selected. Who knows if that’s true.
We avoid Heathrow for the reason Silas Marner states. They take everything out, everything, then shove it to the side and push you to hurry up. Things had to be refolded, rewrapped, etc. This was our carryon only. We had checked our bag since we were going home. Thanks goodness cause I would have flipped out and caused myself more problems.
PS. We didn’t notice anything on our boarding pass. They bagged us when we went to the person at the portable COVID declaration form station they have around the airport.

Posted by
218 posts

Previously reported, returning from France 2017, CDG->SFO: I didn't know what SSSS meant.

I had been eaten alive by mosquitos in Avignon, and got some hydrocortisone from the local pharmacy. They sold me OINTMENT. The morning of my flight I had slathered the stuff all over my arms and neck.

Hitting the SSSS screening, I triggered the explosives reside check when they swabbed my fingers!

Fortunately I had the ointment in my backpack and greasy red welts on my neck and arms. Finally the screener told me to rub my fingers really really hard on my jeans and then I passed.

Posted by
27720 posts

didn't the ointment have to go in the 3-1-1?

Posted by
7190 posts

When I worked for Virgin Atlantic in 2008 any passengers with passports from the names of 9 countries that began with the letters spelling out the following acronym always got selected for extra screening:

Can you guess the names of each country?

Posted by
218 posts

@Nigel: Ointment was ~1 oz and was in the 3-1-1; backpack was my carry-on. (Backpack was specifically selected sized for European carry-on limits.)

Posted by
464 posts

I got the SSSS in Heathrow in 18. I had my 86 year old father with me. Heathrow screwed up getting us to the Gate (they waited forever to take him via wheel chair) I had both my carry on and dads carry on when i got to the gate. They made me give my. dads carry on to him and then they screened me right there at the gate. Made me loosen my belt so they could swab that…It was extremely unprofessional.

I was the last one and the staff wanted me to rush because i was the last person at the gate (when my Dad SHOULD have been the first to board). But i took my time putting my carry on back together. No point in not. I was going to be the last person on the plane through no fault oof my own no mater what i did.

I used to get heightened security all the time back on 99-2008 when i flew a lot gor travel. But it was handled more efficiently then at Heathrow.

Note the staff was nice during the inspection. But they let me give away one of the bags i was carrying…. Actually they MADE me give away one of them. presumably if i had something i shpuldnt i would have given that bag away..

Now if you want rude…. lets talk Paris in 2017. They had someone ask both Myself and my father (and randomly other folks in line) various random questions that presumably would proof we were who we claimed to be, But the guy asking the questions was just plane rude. And like i said i am used to security at airports.