Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Secondary Security Screening Selection

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Secondary Security Screening Selection

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. The passengers may be known as Selectee, Automatic Selectee or the Selectee list. The number of names on the list fluctuates and is a secret, although the Transportation Security Administration apparently says there are tens of thousands of names on it.


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

Procedure when selected

Passengers who have been selected for secondary screening can neither 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. 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. In the case of Southwest Airlines, secondary screening selectees may have a "checkerboard" pattern printed on their boarding passes.

SSSS passengers will go through a more intensive screening process which may include enhanced pat-downs. Their carry-on luggage may 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.

Selection criteria

Neither the TSA nor the airlines publish the criteria that is 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.
  • Passengers who pay cash for their tickets.
  • Random selection, according to TSA spokeswoman Amy Von Walter in 2004, and as suggested by the Washington State branch of the ACLU.
  • 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.

    Critics of the George W. Bush administration, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, feminist Naomi Wolf, peace activists Father John Dear and Sister Virgine Lawinger, Center for Constitutional Rights lawyers Barbara Olshansky and Nancy Chang, and Green Party activists Nancy Oden and Doug Stuber have been pulled aside for enhanced screening, leading activists to believe that some selectees were being harassed for speaking out against government policies.


    Secondary Security Screening Selection Wikipedia