SSSS is the acronym for Secondary Security Screening Selection, a program used in the United States by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which selects certain airport passengers, usually those boarding international flights, for a second, more thorough security screening than the main one that all passengers undergo.
Some refer to SSSS passengers as suspicious passengers.
SSSS can stand for the Secondary Security Screening Selectee, which is the actual passenger chosen to be subjected to this process. The TSA guards the list of SSSS names, and they have their own algorithm for determining who will be an SSSS.
Common flags that might be raised to warrant placement on the SSSS list include:
- destination country
- origin country
- country of passport
- one-way tickets instead of a round trip flight
- last-minute flight bookings
- random selection
- race and ethnicity, unfortunately, may also sometimes play a role
If a passenger becomes a secondary security screening selectee, they will most likely have “SSSS” in all capitals printed on their boarding pass. Some airlines may have a different signal, such as Southwest’s checkerboard pattern, to be less conspicuous. If passengers are selected in advance, online check-in as well as self check-in become unavailable to them, as well.