"Manual Check in"

Old Nov 8, 19, 5:48 am
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"Manual Check in"

Hi Folks,

Just tried online check in for my flight tomorrow; Ex UK... big flashing screens saying "contact reservation agent", to which they said regulations require a certain percentage of people checking in, to be done manually, at the airport, and not online. Is this true? First time i've ever even heard of such a practice.. or is this a pre warning for getting to the airport and either being booted off or downgraded?

MTIA
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Old Nov 8, 19, 6:43 am
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Had that in Nice, France recently. Has to do with you being "chosen" for Security Check. Your boarding pass probably will have "SSS" across the top left and you will be individually screened prior to being allowed to board. It is a random selection. There is nothing, other than a computer, that selects you.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by PMFR View Post
Had that in Nice, France recently. Has to do with you being "chosen" for Security Check. Your boarding pass probably will have "SSS" across the top left and you will be individually screened prior to being allowed to board. It is a random selection. There is nothing, other than a computer, that selects you.
While the check-in could be inhibited due to a SSSS hit, it could also be due to nothing more than a need for a manual document check prior to issuing boarding pass — perhaps even a boarding pass without a haraSSSSment flagging — and the airline getting a feedback ok’ing the passenger to travel. Or it could be other things that are even more minor on average — say seat assignment issues or things sort of like that.

Some SSSS hits and other self-check-in inhibition is rather manually-based and is not just by automated computer selection.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 6:54 am
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Yes, it is true.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 8:17 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
While the check-in could be inhibited due to a SSSS hit, it could also be due to nothing more than a need for a manual document check prior to issuing boarding pass — perhaps even a boarding pass without a haraSSSSment flagging — and the airline getting a feedback ok’ing the passenger to travel. Or it could be other things that are even more minor on average — say seat assignment issues or things sort of like that.

Some SSSS hits and other self-check-in inhibition is rather manually-based and is not just by automated computer selection.
However the none random SSSS selection means not the airline, but the government has decided to flag you. Nearly all SSSS are random computer generated. Even having Precheck won't preclude you from being selected.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 8:21 am
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Originally Posted by PMFR View Post
Had that in Nice, France recently. Has to do with you being "chosen" for Security Check. Your boarding pass probably will have "SSS" across the top left and you will be individually screened prior to being allowed to board. It is a random selection. There is nothing, other than a computer, that selects you.
I agree, OP is a selectee and will have SSSS on BP. What gets me is most airlines will still let you checkin, you just print a BP with SSSS on it. It's just US airlines that inhibit OLCI. Some dont even print SSSS on the BP. However when the BP is scanned it will alert that passenger is a selectee. The additional screening is then done at the gate in these cases. I had it with VS about year ago. Did app OLCI, got EBP, and at LHR had to get the additional gate screening.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by SpeedBird17Victor View Post
Hi Folks,

Just tried online check in for my flight tomorrow; Ex UK... big flashing screens saying "contact reservation agent", to which they said regulations require a certain percentage of people checking in, to be done manually, at the airport, and not online. Is this true? First time i've ever even heard of such a practice.. or is this a pre warning for getting to the airport and either being booted off or downgraded?

MTIA
More and more Delta outstations departing to the US require manual check-in. This is so that some contract security employees (working on behalf of Delta who is in turn working on behalf of absurd and ineffectual US government policy) can ask you a set of behavioral interview questions with the goal of identifying travelers perceived as high risk for secondary screening done at the gate.

It has nothing to do with the typical SSSS tag as mentioned above - it doesn't mean you have been specially selected - if it is at an airport like I mentioned above, all travelers have to go through this security theater. This includes major Delta hubs such as CDG (not sure about AMS - this wasn't the case last time I went there, but it was over a year ago).

If you choose to cooperate with the contract employee (who likely speaks barely passable English and will be reading from a script on a tablet), you will generally not be required to take any other action. If you choose to ignore them and refuse to answer any questions, you will just have your carry-on bag searched at the gate.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 8:28 am
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Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
Nearly all SSSS are random computer generated.
Sure, if by random you mean not random. There is indeed some true random selection, but the majority of the selections are pre-determined based on an arbitrary risk algorithm. While just one of many variables considered, ask any traveler who has spent time in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, or other countries the DHS deems as high risk how much more they seem to be "randomly" selected than before. The small number of true random selections is so that the DHS can pretend it is random rather than abusive and discriminatory.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 10:21 am
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There are two possible error messages that prevent passengers from doing OLCI, and in my experience:

Contact Reservation Agents: Manual check-in needs to be done
Check-in cannot be completed due to government regulations: SSSS

Others experiences may vary, these are based on my own observations.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:57 pm
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Not being able to check-in due to government regulations can also be because the international travel document by itself may appear to the airline as not being evidence by itself of the person being admissible. I can go into a rather humorous story about a flight a few days ago where this was the issue and the check-in reps started making stuff up about what is required for EU dual-citizens with valid EU country passports to be admissible to the EU, but it would just divert the discussion and do no one any good.

Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
However the none random SSSS selection means not the airline, but the government has decided to flag you. Nearly all SSSS are random computer generated. Even having Precheck won't preclude you from being selected.
I am 100% certain that for US-bound international flights, more weeks than not, I see SSSS hits which are due to manual, computer-aided selection -- by the relevant government authorities -- and/or are due to the airline/airline security contractor. While such dynamic may or may not be a minority of the "random" or "non-random" SSSS hits, it happens routinely.

Most US-bound flights' airlines can't print a PreCheck boarding pass with SSSS on it from most foreign airports serving flights to the US -- and that is speaking of just PreCheck-eligible airlines from airports where PreCheck boarding passes are issued. I won't discuss this further, so don't ask.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by ethernal View Post
Sure, if by random you mean not random. There is indeed some true random selection, but the majority of the selections are pre-determined based on an arbitrary risk algorithm. While just one of many variables considered, ask any traveler who has spent time in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, or other countries the DHS deems as high risk how much more they seem to be "randomly" selected than before. The small number of true random selections is so that the DHS can pretend it is random rather than abusive and discriminatory.
This is very interesting. I have ended up SSSS on my last SIX AMS-PDX flights. It's to the point now where I just expect it, I thought I was getting to the point of just being good at being randomly selected (time to buy a lottery ticket?). Now I wonder where I've been that is so troubling.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 5:49 pm
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So can you get out of the haraSSSSment by cancelling the ticket and re-booking it/picking a different flight/choosing a different airline?
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Old Nov 8, 19, 7:32 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyDeltaConnection View Post
So can you get out of the haraSSSSment by cancelling the ticket and re-booking it/picking a different flight/choosing a different airline?
Making a new reservation subjects it to the SSSS algorithm again. So it doesn’t have any effect.

However if your new reservation is a last minute reservation, especially a one way, this usually sets off the risk algorithm and, IME, leads to a higher rate of SSSS selection.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 7:50 pm
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Originally Posted by ethernal View Post
This is so that some contract security employees (working on behalf of Delta who is in turn working on behalf of absurd and ineffectual US government policy) can ask you a set of behavioral interview questions with the goal of identifying travelers perceived as high risk for secondary screening done at the gate.
had this happen in HKG. the accent was VERY thick. I typically try to read lips in those cases so I can help myself figure out what is being said. unfortunately, being in Asia, the gentleman was wearing a face mask that obscured his lips. it took a while

Originally Posted by ethernal View Post

If you choose to cooperate with the contract employee (who likely speaks barely passable English and will be reading from a script on a tablet), you will generally not be required to take any other action. If you choose to ignore them and refuse to answer any questions, you will just have your carry-on bag searched at the gate.
if I recall, in the previous scenario, I had my bag searched at the gate as well
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:38 pm
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We can never check in on-line when departing AMS through the KLM website, but have been able using the Air France website leaving CDG or intra-Europe AF connecting flight. The AMS issue is not associated with the enhanced security selection, but probably more due to traveling on green card requiring manual processing (though family on US passports seem to have the same issue at AMS). So may be a system issue or related to the country you fly out of in addition to the possibility of SSSS selection.
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