SSSS on boarding pass: what that actually means to your travel

Estimated read time: 2 minutes



I have read the news stories and blog posts on the impact of your boarding pass saying “SSSS,” which stands for something like Special Secondary Security Screening.

I was flying London to Charlotte and saw the letters immediately. Ugh. How will this cut into my lounge time of sitting around before my flight? #firstworldproblems

SSSS on boarding pass

At the first security check there was no extra screening so I figured this would happen at the gate and be conducted there. I often leave to have the least amount of time for me to be at the actual gate, but guessed I needed to allocate some more time here due to the extra screening.

I did and arrived at 850 with boarding starting at 855. So five minutes should be fine, I hoped. A lot of the other SSSS boarding pass articles I read had made it seem that I would need much more time. This screen will take two days. Arms on the car and legs spread, please! ?‍♀️ ?

Of course, it wasn’t that bad at all and took maybe 5 minutes. I was ready to board by the boarding time, though the crew wasn’t. ?‍♂️

They searched my jacket, my carry-on luggage, swiped my hands, shoes, pockets and all electronics. I also had to remove my iPhone’s case.

All tests were negative for whatever they were testing and the SSSS wasn’t a big deal or even that big of a time eater.

I’m a big believer in that #journalismmatters and so does niche storytelling. But this was a reminder that sometimes stories are just overstated.

I’m not saying that’s intentional and certainly there are different experiences of similar events.

The special secondary security screening may have been highly inconvenient or worse for some. In my case, it wasn’t that big of a deal – especially since I allocated some extra time for it once I saw the SSSS on my boarding pass.

How did I get it anyway? I have Global Entry to return to the United States without basically seeing a customs officer and Nexus for Canada. That means that I’m a low-risk traveler or else they wouldn’t give those to me. I assume I got the SSSS simple by random selection.