Insane Itineraries Appear to Have Caught Up With Me, I Received SSSS

After a long night flying from St. Louis to Philadelphia to London, I decided to splurge and reserve a sleeping room for 6 hours at the Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow.  I’ll review my experience at the Plaza Premium Lounge in the future.  However, something interesting occurred towards the latter part of my visit.

After a fantastic three-hour nap, breakfast, a hot shower, and some Netflix, my time at the lounge and sleeping room was coming to an end.  Around that same time, check-in for my Lufthansa First Class flight from Frankfurt to New York opened up.  I was going to check-in and then leisurely make my way to the departure lounge in Terminal 2.  After trying to check-in using both my laptop and cell phone, it was obvious that something was wrong.  I kept getting error messages.

(Image: Lufthansa)

(Image: Lufthansa)

The Lufthansa service desks are a minute (not kidding, just a minute) from the Plaza Premium Lounge.  I decided that I’d check in at one of the service desks to avoid any issues in Frankfurt.  Finally, after I explained to the agents that because of the time change, it was actually in fact time to check in for my flight, I received my boarding pass.  The second the agent handed me the boarding pass, I laughed.  There it was.  The dreaded “SSSS”.

I laughed because not three hours ago, I was sitting in the sleeping room reading a post on One Mile At a Time about Ben’s process of getting a redress number to avoid receiving SSSS in the future.  I made a remark to myself when I was reading that post, “I bet I get SSSS soon.”  Three hours later, I was standing in Heathrow’s Terminal 2 with my boarding pass clearly displaying the letter S four times in bold font.

What is SSSS and Why It Doesn’t Worry Me too Much



SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection.  It’s issued by the Transportation Security Administration as a secondary security measure.  There’s very little information available regarding how one is selected for secondary screening.

That’s the main reason SSSS has is somewhat controversial especially with civil liberties groups.  There are no guidelines to who gets it and why they get it.  Additionally, SSSS is accused of being racially and ethnically motivated.  However, again, little is known about why one receives SSSS.

Basically, the main goal of SSSS is to target high-risk passengers and screen them thoroughly to ensure security and safety.  SSSS screening usually means the selected passenger will receive a patdown, their luggage hand searched, and agents might ask a few questions.  Of course, I’m not a high-risk passenger.  I know that and I’m sure readers know this but apparently, the US government thinks otherwise.

There’s a widely accepted theory that one-way tickets, odd itineraries, and short stays in foreign countries can trigger SSSS.  If this theory is true, I know why I’ve received SSSS for the first time.  I’ve been flying internationally frequently and laying over in international countries for short periods of time fairly often.  My parents have always said, “One of these days the government is going to track you down and think you’re some drug dealer or something.”  I always shrugged and chalked that statement up to hysteria.

But receiving SSSS doesn’t really worry me.  I’m not one to throw a fit over privacy and my travels are purely for fun and for this blog.  I don’t mind additional screening and I have nothing to hide.  That’s why I’m not too concerned.  I don’t mind having to go through the full body scanner or the metal detectors.  I don’t like pat downs but if that’s what’s on-tap for me, I’m not going to fight the TSA.  I will, however, become concerned if this becomes the norm for me.  For now, I’m just eagerly awaiting my Lufthansa First Class trip.


SSSS sucks.  I’m not going to deny it.  I’d much rather just go through security without additional screening, but there’s nothing I can do about it.  I thought because of my status as a known traveler that I’d never encounter SSSS but I was wrong.  I’ll report back my experience with SSSS and of course, my experience in Lufthansa First Class.

Have you ever received SSSS?