Can you believe that flying was once a luxury? Nowadays it is just really inconvenient and annoying. And before you even get on the plane, seated next to a screaming baby or people who have no spatial awareness, you have to get through that long, snaking security line.
Oh those damn security lines. There is always the guy huffing and puffing in front of you complaining about how long the line is. Doesn’t he know that he is making worse? Then you finally get to front of the line and are checked by the TSA. They scribble illegibly on your boarding pass, you take your shoes off (while thinking about how gross the floors must be), take your laptop out of your bag and move forward.
You are one step closer to getting to the other side where you are going to do more of nothing and sit and wait. Why are you in a hurry again? You get the metal detectors and you are almost free to go right? Maybe. Is depends on what secret codes your boarding pass may have.
If you get your boarding pass, look on the bottom right. If you see the letters “SSSS” printed on your ticket, you are not done yet. You are about to get up close and personal with the TSA. Having “SSSS” printed on your boarding pass means that you have been pre-selected for an additional security screening!
Congratulations! You have been selected to go through multiple more screenings. You will be poked and patted and scanned and it’s going to be really, really... fun?
"SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection and it appears on a passenger’s boarding pass when they’ve been selected by TSA’s Secure Flight system for enhanced security screening," a TSA spokesman told Business Insider in a statement.
The code was introduced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and applies to those who are traveling to and from the United States. If you have never of heard of this before, it is probably because you have never had any additional security screenings.
So how does one get the “SSSS” on their boarding pass? According to the TSA, they identify who they consider to be a low-risk passenger and those who may be a high-risk passenger. And high-risk passengers will always get a second screening.
"Secure Flight is a risk-based passenger pre-screening program that enhances security by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watch lists," the agency said.
Before you even get to the airport, they have put you on either list.
The TSA explains that Secure Flight collects basic personal information like your full name, your date of birth and your gender, "necessary to conduct effective matching." The TSA also uses Secure Flight to make sure people on the “No Fly List” and the Centers for Disease Control's “Do Not Board List” from getting on a plane. That is some high tech stuff right there.
11. What Is It Like Having The SSSS On Your Ticket
When the airport staff saw the “SSSS” code on her plane ticket, she was taken to a ticket counter where they wrote a huge “SSSS” on her ticket in permanent marker. She was then taken back to the back of the line to wait in the security check like everyone else. But she certainly wasn’t treated like everyone else.
When she finally got to the front of the line and met with the TSA agent, they scanned her boarding pass. Her ticket triggered an alarm and red light’s literally started to flash. She was then examined by three different X-ray machines.
"The first was the normal kind, thin-framed, metal detector type," she explained. "The second and third were the circular, glass cage, Sci-Fi movie looking type -- and I bet you any money it did more than just check for metal."
They then did a swab test to check for explosives and they patted down her entire body. They even checked in between her toes.
They "literally checked the folds in my pads to see if anything was in there," she noted.
In a letter that she wrote to the TSA, she wrote: "I have never experienced a more traumatic and invasive travel event. This isn’t freedom. I don’t feel safer. This is fear."
While our safety is the most important thing, maybe there is way to be more discrete and less humiliating? Next time you complain about traveling, think about this girl. And you thought flying was a nightmare?