Very few people get any joy from passing through an airport, and those with an SSSS stamped on their boarding pass are set to get even less joy.
It turns out "SSSS" stands for "Secondary Security Screening Selection," which means those possessing the stamp must undergo extra extended security screenings which can take up to 30 minutes.
It's a U.S. airport security measure that is given to passengers on the Selectee list. Who is on the list and why they're on the list remains top secret, though the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has confirmed there are tens of thousands of names on it.
While it has never been confirmed, the popular opinion is the list relied on privacy infringement and racial and ethnic profiling.
According to Lifehacker, there is a multitude of reasons you can get stuck with an SSSS, though all come back to a passenger being considered "high-risk" — but don't worry too much, this is all only of concern to people traveling in and out of America.
SSSS on your plane ticket is the mark of death. Mom had to go through extra security measures at TSA while I get my laugh for the day! 😃✈️— Allison Thompson (@allig8or11) May 12, 2014
Tried to help russian friend with travel visa issue, resulted in a SSSS code on my plane ticket and a proctology exam by homeland security.— Gary Bradski (@grbradsk) October 18, 2012
If you have a plane ticket that says SSSS on it then you get a 20 min search. Yay!— DarrenM (@DarrenMills) December 27, 2008
For those who find themselves with an SSSS on their ticket repeatedly, there is something you can do.
"It’s not out of the ordinary for everyone to get this every now and then. If you find it happening often, then you should try applying for a redress number."
"That process is specifically for travelers that are repeatedly selected for additional screening, indicating they may accidentally be on a watch list, that want to have their file corrected with the Department of Homeland Security."
This post was written by Katie Skelly. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.