The TSA reveals what the 'SSSS' on your boarding pass actually means
Going through airport customs is a stressful enough process as it is. There's a billion factors that come into play when you're getting your baggage searched, and each and every one of them contributes to making you a nervous wreck: Where is my passport? Is it even in date? Do I, even though I 100% don't, have something illegal in my bag that could get me sent to prison FOREVER?
All of these questions whizz around in your head, leading you to look like a complete freak as you go through customs giving sideways glances at security and sweating profusely. However, sadly for the worriers like me in the world, things could get a whole lot worse.
Airline passengers who have "SSSS' stamped on their boarding passes are likely to face extra security checks and delays, making the process of going through an airport a whole lot worse. The innocuous looking code is only applicable for travellers heading to the United States and stands for "Secondary Security Screening Selection".
Essentially this means that the pass holder has been selected to undergo an extensive security screening process before they are allowed to board their flight, and it can add up to half an hour onto the process.
The screening, which includes bag searches, pat downs and validating your identity as well as your reasons for coming to America is conducted by the Transportation Security Administration. You can tell in advance if you are the unlucky person to undergo this screening as you won't be able to print your boarding pass off at the self-check-in at the airport.
Seth Weinstein, a US customs attorney, said that the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection use the Terrorist Screening Database, which is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, to decide who qualifies for secondary screening.
While you may be tempted to flee in a fit of desperate panic once you're told that you're going to be interrogated, failure to take part in the security checks will result in you being denied entry onto the flight. You can request to be removed from the SSSS list by submitting documentation and evidence to the Traveller Redress Inquiry Program.
However, despite the process being put into place after the 9/11 attacks in order to help officials prevent potentially dangerous people from entering the US, some people have still been moaning about it.
Frequent traveller Touring Tony said on Twitter: "TSA, why do you SSSS me every time I travel to the Mideast? Come on already, can't Americans travel freely without harassment?"
I mean, while the checks are understandable and need to be done, I have no doubt that I would completely s**t myself if it happened to me. Despite not being guilty of any wrongdoing, I would automatically feel like I'm guilty and own up to every sin in my life.
So next time you're flying to the US, be sure to check your boarding pass, as you might be spending a little bit longer in the airport than planned.