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Losing TSA Precheck by visiting Turkey

I have been reading several travel blogs and heard many different people lost their TSA Precheck status after they went on vacations in Turkey in recent weeks. Not only that, they are now on watch lists that require "enhanced" screenings. So instead of a quick 5 minute run through airport security, they now are subjected to secondary pat downs and bag searches every time they fly. I have a trip to Istanbul planned for later this year. However, I travel a lot and the thought of losing my TSA Precheck status for several months/years after the trip would make me change my plans. Has anyone else had this experience after traveling to Turkey recently?

Posted by
1076 posts

Been to Turkey 3 times since July of 2014 and nothing has changed as far as my Pre status-are we dealing with a new "travel legend?"

Posted by
16847 posts

The couple of blogs that I see reporting and speculating on this issue are not by people who took vacations in Turkey. They made rather unusual and very brief stops in Turkey, one for a half day of meetings and no overnight, another as a connection point on an unusually zig-zaggy flight plan (using mileage awards, but looking more like a person trying to evade detection).

Posted by
6697 posts

If someone becomes a target for greater scrutiny (for whatever reason, based on their pattern of behavior or their whereabouts), then they will get greater scrutiny - it doesn't matter at all whether they got prior Precheck status or not. If you don't fall into that category, it seems like you don't have to worry about this.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks Laura, I'm guessing we should be fine and will probably risk it.

Posted by
1 posts

It is not urban legend. My entire US-born family and I went to Istanbul and then a Blue Cruise from Fethiye to Olympos in August 2015. My wife is fine, but I have:
lost pre-check
can no longer print boarding passes at home
have to wait in the "big line"
can only be screened by a TSA supervisor while they fully pat me down, swab everything electronic and rip my bags apart.

I am a frequent business traveler, Pre-Check Holder, United Premier, and Marriott Gold. This is terrible.

ARRGH!!!!

Posted by
5011 posts

Mr B, I would be curious to know more details about your travel - things that could trigger greater scrutiny such as: did you travel on a one-way ticket? (for frequent flyer award flights, it often works out better to book two one-ways, there and back - but the authorities only see "one way" which draws scrutiny). Pay for your ticket in cash? Book your flight very close to departure? Was your ticket booked separately from other family members who have not received the same unwelcome attention? Would you be considered a "military age male"? by a profiler?

FWIW I've read the same stories and this is a real thing, not urban legend. It's not consistent (the TSA and similar agencies abhor consistency...) but it's definitely real to those who have fallen into it.

Good luck getting your freedom back. From what I've read, it sounds like it should heal eventually...just may take longer than you would like.

Posted by
1 posts

These posts are largely inaccurate - speculation from travelers who haven't even heard of this common problem but feel qualified to post an (incorrect) answer. I suggest you Google TSA SSSS (which is the code on your boarding pass for enhanced screening). You can find a wealth of information including wikipedia and a lot of traveler stories. Many normal tourists with normal schedules have been added to this watch list simply by visiting Turkey. It is not legend and it is not the fault of the traveler for doing something suspicious. It is thought the list may be in excess of 10,000 people. The enhanced screening is not only a long line, it usually involves going to a private room for a body pat down. I am going to Turkey next year anyway, but dread the idea I could be placed on this watch list.

Posted by
12322 posts

Unfortunately when people disagree with you here they can come across sounding less than polite. Most of the time I try and write it off to a lack of good wording.

I have been to Istanbul. I drove in, spent a few days and flew out. Since that date, oddly enough, I haven't qualified for Pre Check. But neither have I been taken to the little room and searched. Last time that happened was in Tel Aviv. But I do believe what you say is possible; and I don't necessarily object to it.

Posted by
3458 posts

When you say you are "Pre Check holder" does this mean you regularly got assigned to the Pre Check line because of your airline status? Or did you pay to join the Pre Check program and go through the entire background check process receiving a known traveller number?

TSA has stated they are eliminating their previous policy of randomly assigning higher level frequent flyers Pre Check because there are so many who have paid to join that the lines have become too long. If you regularly received Pre Check because you were a top tier frequent flyer and you no longer do so, this is why.

Posted by
35 posts

@Mark,
I paid my money and went through the full Nexus, TSA Precheck, and Global Entry background check and interview process.

Posted by
25560 posts

quoting from 4 posts up....

These posts are largely inaccurate - speculation from travelers who
haven't even heard of this common problem but feel qualified to post
an (incorrect) answer.

But who have plenty of experience. And they might be right.

You can find a wealth of information including wikipedia and a lot of traveler stories.

So they must be right I guess? Because wikipedia is always known for being right?

It is thought the list may be in excess of 10,000 people.

"It is thought" doesn't sound like well researched and checked facts.

Posted by
34 posts

I am only one data point here, but I have global entry, came back after a vacation in Istanbul in October this year, and I've flown domestically to two different destinations since then and still got routed through TSA Precheck lines both times.
(So for this one data point) no, I did not lose TSA Precheck by visiting Turkey.
Given the lines at the airports for the holidays I hope it stays that way.

Posted by
35 posts

Well, I just left Turkey and sure enough, I have the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass. It looks like I will be getting "enhanced" security screenings at the airport for awhile (vs. my beloved TSA precheck line). And there was nothing unusual about my itinerary. It was booked as a round trip ticket from the US, for a 4 day stay, months ago. Just a warning to others.

Posted by
3458 posts

I got SSSS when I left Rome last month. So did a lot of others on that flight (it was on United). Still have Pre Check on every domestic flight since.

Posted by
7 posts

Here is one more data point. I spent 3 weeks in Turkey last September. I did not lose my TSA Precheck status after that trip. I "earned" my Precheck status as a top tier frequent flier for many years while I was working. I am now retired and travel much less frequently, but still retain the Precheck status.

Posted by
86 posts

I have a related question: we're thinking of going to Istanbul next month and are currently living in Prague. My husband travels a lot for work between Prague and the US, so it would be a huge drag for him to lose his Global Entry status, but if we're traveling within the EU (i.e. no passport control), will the TSA even know? Thanks for answers and help.

Posted by
3458 posts

Turkey is not part of the EU (yet). You still go through a passport check and have to get a visa even traveling from Europe if you are a US citizen.