Business Insider recently explored what you should do if you see the "SSSS" code on the bottom of your boarding pass. Why is this being discussed now? Because, unfortunately, even though the information has been "public" for years, it's not widely known. In a nutshell, the code means: You've been pre-selected for additional security screening.
"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 spokesperson told BI in a statement. In practice, it means an additional screening that takes about 10 to 30 minutes during which TSA agents may search your bags, pat you down, and perform additional body scans.
Secure Flight collects basic personal information — such as your full name, date of birth, and gender — and matches it against watch lists such as the No Fly List and the Centers for Disease Control's Do Not Board List, to prevent people on those lists from boarding planes, said the TSA.
A TSA spokesperson told HuffPo that travellers who do not appear on the FBI's counterterrorism watch list are assigned the code at random. But there are definitely factors that make you more likely to get the code, people have noticed, such as having travelled to certain countries. If you get this code all the time, you might be on a watch list by mistake, according to Lifehacker. And if that's the case, you should contact the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).
We've reached out to the TSA and will update this post when we hear back.