SSSS - Experiences?

Old Jan 4, 18, 7:23 am
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SSSS - Experiences?

Got my first one on ticket today. Secondary security screening incoming. Not especially excited.

Any advice? Get to gate early? Be proactive with staff? Expect to be grilled?!

EDIT: It's UK (home country) to US, valid ESTA, from T3 on BA.
External company bought the ticket at obscurely high price for WT+ (company policy or something), so wondering if it's down to: 1. frequency of flying; 2. paying excessively for a 777 Prem Economy seat; 3. I've got ex-CAI and an ex-MCT TP runs incoming (neither on the "US banned list" though).

Last edited by mmxbreaks; Jan 4, 18 at 7:50 am
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:24 am
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Originally Posted by mmxbreaks View Post
Got my first one on ticket today. Secondary security screening incoming. Not especially excited.

Any advice? Get to gate early? Be proactive with staff? Expect to be grilled?!
I had an SSSS last year in MAN. Was checked again at the gate (actually not at the gate itself but a bit further down, just before boarding the plane), no big deal. Took a couple of minutes.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:26 am
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No big deal, thorough pat down, swab of bag & shoes and that was it I think.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:27 am
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Nothing to worry about whatsoever (there seems to be some sort of nervousness with SSSS on here, for some reason).

If you are travelling with someone else, give them as much/all of your hand luggage (basically defeating the purpose of this 'security' charade) before the SSSS area and your search will be much quicker. Keep hold of your BP/passport, however.

I would get to the gate about 5mins earlier than normal, no need to be much more early than that. You could flag to gate staff that you are marked SSSS and 'board' you prior to the main rush in order to start with the screening.

Overall, it is a US-mandated security charade that does nothing to improve security, except employing a few additional agents that we all pay for. A waste of time overall.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:29 am
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Fresh new socks.

That's about it really, otherwise turn up as normal. There may be a small argument for checking more baggage or getting any travel companions to take bags from you, but in reality it's just a quick swab and a bit of a delve that I'm not even sure that's worth doing. In some cases, particularly if there is a delay with the start of boarding, you can ask the gate agent to go into the pre-board area so that the G4S staff can get to work sooner. But equally there is a case for turning up late and avoiding all the DYKWIA riots that apparently take place at T5's gates.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:31 am
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I believe this is happening with increased frequency to stay in compliance with some rules the US FAA have put in, and is thus more commonplace. I would get to the gate early so that you aren't waiting in a queue to be processed. Be prepared to answer more questions by an agent (mine was the lounge attendant so that I didn't have to wait at the gate), to show you are a genuine traveler. If you travel with laptop/phone/tablet, be sure these are sufficiently charged so you can turn them on, and be prepared for them to have you open your luggage so they can flip inspect the contents (for example, if you keep a lock on your hand luggage as I do, be sure any keys are handy or combination easily dialed).

It's not really a big deal, the key thing is not to get flustered. Keep in mind these persons rifling through your stuff probably would like to be doing something else.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:40 am
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At one time, every internal Northwest flight I took in the US I got SSSS - to the extent that one day the lounge at MEM called the airport security manager for the airline down to explain why when I told them I'd stop flying with them if they didn't resolve it. He blamed the TSA, the TSA having already blamed NW - but miraculously after that conversation it never happened again.

Now, the inconvenience wasn't anything to do with the security processing time, but the restrictions meant I couldn't even check-in and had to arrive at the airport earlier to queue at a desk and go through a series of checks. The TSA part really was reasonably swift - they'd swab my bag, liquids and camera body/lenses, we'd have a nice chat whilst the scan processed, and probably less than two minutes after we started I'd be on my way.

So provided you can still check-in, and as a one-off, this really is nothing more than a slightly annoying pimple and nothing to get remotely concerned about.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:41 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Fresh new socks.
Hilariously I bought a new pair of Happy Socks which I'm wearing right now.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:45 am
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Had this yesterday at LHR. Had seen SSSS on boarding pass so given water bottle to travelling companion (before arriving at gate) just in case, but not necessary.

Pointless but not much of a nuisance, either. Was asked to present all electronic equipment, but nobody checked whether I had actually given up all of it. So another one that only catches honest terrorists. Shoes off and socks swabbed, that was about it.

Took about five minutes for friendly but clueless staff to sort themselves out, then another five to do the actual check, then I was on my way. Really nothing to worry about.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:47 am
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I had the dreaded SSSS last summer. I was in F and boarded as the first passenger. I was travelling alone so could not palm off my luggage to anybody else. The idiot that performed this charade spoke in unintelligble tones and asked really stupid questions, most of which were personal and none of his business. I made the mistake of telling him so meaning the charade took until well into general boarding.
So, my advice would be to have as little hand baggage as possible, make sure any mobile devices are not only charged but switched into standby but security protected so that they cannot be opened without your presence. Be polite but do not let them intimidate you into answering any questions not related to your journey or visit. I found questions to marital status, where I had travelled in the last 6 years, how many kids I had and where they lived totally inappropriate and without purpose. Bear in mind, these people are not part of any government agency or empowered for anything other than the security of the aircraft you are entering. If you do not want questions about religion then don‘t tell them you are on a cheap ticket originating in CAI.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:52 am
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Had it a couple of weeks ago. Gave hand luggage to companion and showed up with just a phone. Went early so was first to board.While I was there a 10 year old girl and a woman who looked like late 70's were also being done.

the charade in HK is even more thorough though as all pax get a good rummage
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Old Jan 4, 18, 7:54 am
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Just a couple of things to add to the advice already given:

1. My own experience of SSSS is fairly painless, except that I was asked to remove my Kindle from its leather case - something I really struggled with, as I had never tried to remove it before.
2. On two of my recent flights, all the SSSS passengers were called by name to board first, presumably so that it did not delay the flight.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:06 am
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Well, seeing as I have three phones, two laptops, one camera, two battery chargers, oh, and a Nintendo Switch (which is wearing a First eye-mask as I can't find a case), I'm sure they'll have a field day. :-D
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by Tafflyer View Post
I had the dreaded SSSS last summer. I was in F and boarded as the first passenger. I was travelling alone so could not palm off my luggage to anybody else. The idiot that performed this charade spoke in unintelligble tones and asked really stupid questions, most of which were personal and none of his business. I made the mistake of telling him so meaning the charade took until well into general boarding.
So, my advice would be to have as little hand baggage as possible, make sure any mobile devices are not only charged but switched into standby but security protected so that they cannot be opened without your presence. Be polite but do not let them intimidate you into answering any questions not related to your journey or visit. I found questions to marital status, where I had travelled in the last 6 years, how many kids I had and where they lived totally inappropriate and without purpose. Bear in mind, these people are not part of any government agency or empowered for anything other than the security of the aircraft you are entering. If you do not want questions about religion then don‘t tell them you are on a cheap ticket originating in CAI.
It really is simpler to answer the questions and not worry about what they are - the purpose is to see how you react, whether you can provide an answer instantly (and let's face it, everyone should know if they have children ...), and whether there's any sign of nervousness. That's why the questions are actually entirely appropriate - they are ones that everyone should be able to answer with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The questioner really doesn't care what the actual response is, and nor will they record it anywhere for posterity - if you claimed to only have two children when it's really three they're not going to know, but they might later trip you up with a supplementary question.

IMHO, even suggesting to the OP that they should refuse to answer certain questions is bad advice.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:19 am
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Originally Posted by NWIFlyer View Post
It really is simpler to answer the questions and not worry about what they are - the purpose is to see how you react, whether you can provide an answer instantly (and let's face it, everyone should know if they have children ...), and whether there's any sign of nervousness. That's why the questions are actually entirely appropriate - they are ones that everyone should be able to answer with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The questioner really doesn't care what the actual response is, and nor will they record it anywhere for posterity - if you claimed to only have two children when it's really three they're not going to know, but they might later trip you up with a supplementary question.

IMHO, even suggesting to the OP that they should refuse to answer certain questions is bad advice.
Yeah, I'll just answer whatever (within reason, not handing my bank account number over!). Not hiding anything.

Currently re-arranging my luggage so all the electronics are up top and easily accessible. No companion, it's just me, so hope I can get it over with ASAP. I'm only in WT+ - so I need some overhead space! :-/
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