Secondary Security Screening Selection

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Secondary Security Screening Selection or Secondary Security Screening Selectee, known by its acronym SSSS, is an airport security measure in the United States which selects passengers for additional inspection.[1] The passengers may be known as Selectee, Automatic Selectee or the Selectee list.[1] The list contains 14,000 names, as of December 2009.[2] [dated info]

Boarding pass of passenger selected for secondary security screening.

The Selectee list has been cited by civil liberties group to be infringing on privacy rights and potential for racial and ethnic discrimination.[3]

Procedure when selected[edit]

Passengers who have been selected for this secondary screening cannot print out boarding passes at home nor check in curbside or at kiosks. They must check-in at counters where additional verification is performed by airline staff.[4] The passengers will have the letters SSSS or *S* (all capitals) printed on their boarding passes as a signal for the need for a thorough search at checkpoints.[5]

SSSS passengers will go through a more intensive screening process which may include enhanced pat-downs. Their carry-on luggage may be also be inspected by hand. In the case of film or other items that cannot be X-rayed, the agent may perform a test for possible explosive materials. The screener may also use a hand held metal detector to search the passenger for metal objects.[1]

Selection criteria[edit]

Neither the TSA nor the airlines publish the criteria that are used when boarding passes are issued to identify passengers who will be given extra screening or be denied boarding.

Some criteria are:

  • Passengers with a one-way reservation.[6]
  • Passengers who pay cash for their tickets.[7]
  • Passengers who book reservations the day of their flight.
  • Random selection, according to TSA spokeswoman Amy Von Walter in 2004,[5] and as suggested by a 2003 DOI newsletter. [8] [dated info]

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has insisted no minors are listed on the No Fly List or the Selectee List, however minors with similar names to those on the lists had faced difficulty in obtaining boarding passes and had been subjected to additional screening.[4]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Father of Terror Suspect Reportedly Warned U.S. About Son". Fox News. 2009-12-26. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  3. ^ ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging The "No Fly List"
  4. ^ a b Are These Kids Terrorists?
  5. ^ a b "Associated Press: "Women complain about airport patdowns"". Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  6. ^ Singel, R: "How to Get Off a Government Watchlist", Wired, April 16, 2007. Accessed January 8, 2008
  7. ^ Women voice objection to intrusive searches at US airports DailyTimes, December 1, 2004. Accessed January 8, 2008
  8. ^ "DOI Travel Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 4 September 2003". U.S. DOI Office of Financial Management. Archived from the original on 2006-10-01. 

External links[edit]