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Did I Raise A Red Flag For The TSA Today?  
User currently offlineVincent32 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 12541 times:

OK, here is my story that eventually leads to a question.

This afternoon I was in a bind with having to get from ROC to ALB. My car was in the shop until Monday and all trains out of Rochester today were full. Then I remembered that CO still has some conneciton flights from ROC to ALB. So around noon I booked myself on CO8668 from ROC to ALB leaving at 6:30pm and getting to ALB at 7:35pm. Great!

I checked in all fine, no big deal. When I went to the security check point the TSA agent looked at my ticket and then closely studied my driver license. Then she circled at the bottom right corner the letters SSSS and told me to go to lane 6 (those farmiliar with ROC, know what I mean) far from the rest of the security activity. Here I was told that I would have to show my ticket 2 more times. I first removed my lap top and belt for screening on the conveyer. Then stepped into a chamber that blew air all around me (I'm assuming for explosive/gunpowder residue). Then showed my ticket again which was handed to another TSA agent who then for at least 8-10 minutes thoroughly searched though my things and swabbed my bag, computer and every compartment in my carry-on. He then put an orange mark over the SSSS that the first TSA agent circled. I didnt notice this happening at the other security lanes.

My question for our post 9/11 world: Was this just a random search in the sense that every so many passengers go though that lane? Or was I possibly flagged by the SSSS letters for purchasing my ticket about 5 hours before the flight which raised suspicion?

Either way I want to make it clear that it doesnt matter to me. Honestly, seeing how thorough the TSA was when handling my bags and such makes me feel very good about the agency. I commend them for what they do, and also respect them. But at the same time was just curious about all that.

Thanks  Smile

37 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 4972 posts, RR: 18
Reply 1, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 12515 times:

Quoting Vincent32 (Thread starter):
Or was I possibly flagged by the SSSS letters for purchasing my ticket about 5 hours before the flight

The SSSSS means that you should be extra-screened. There are lots of things that can cause this, but a short-time-before purchase will do it, unless you are an elite FF on that airline.


User currently offlineXkorpyoh From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 819 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 12416 times:

one way tickets without frequent flyer info also prints the "ssss".

I had a DL ticket codeshared with Alaska Air. My DL record has my FF info, but when i checked in at the AS self check in kiosk, it printed the SSSS because I am not "known" to AS and was flying just one way on AS (although that was my return portion of my DL ticket). VEry annoying and waste of time...They need to share info better with those codeshared flights.


User currently offlineBHXFAOTIPYYC From Portugal, joined Jun 2005, 1644 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 12298 times:

We were told that one way tickets bought last minute will do it, as will one ways bought in cash, one ways bought overseas etc.

This where I take issue with this system. Firstly this SSSS thing is not a secret. Secondly, and far more importantly, it is computer intel over human intel.



Breakfast in BHX, lunch in FAO, dinner in TIP, baggage in YYC.
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined exactly 13 years ago today! , 10213 posts, RR: 19
Reply 4, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 12284 times:

It's not computers over humans. It's computers doing what humans tell them to. People purchasing 1 way tickets with little notice fit a profile, that of someone not planning to come back to his point of departure and not wanting it known well in advance he's going.

Whether someone you're looking for would buy such a ticket may be questionable, but you'd catch at least the dimwits who decide when coming home from work with a termination letter they're going to kill themselves by crashing an airliner the next morning.

It's better than nothing, and with the TSA being already criticised for racial profiling and stuff like that they want (have) to be seen as doing something, anything.
They can no longer stripsearch someone looking Arabic because that would be seen as discrimination, so they pick people booking one way tickets at short notice, something they can claim truthfully doesn't involve any race at all.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineBHXFAOTIPYYC From Portugal, joined Jun 2005, 1644 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 12261 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 4):

I don't disagree with your comments, but you are talking extremes. There are hundreds of perfectly responsible people who buy late, or one ways. Don't forget, that these days you don't have to buy a return ticket any more to get the best deal. If you are slightly unsure of when you're coming back why start paying change fees / penalties if you have a round trip ticket? Just get a one way when you're ready. Ditto business people, whom I get a lot of. "Just get me a one way because I don't know if I'm going to have to go to XYZ or ZYX on the way home etc".. . I had a very upset 86 year old who bought a NYC MIA late to go visit her sister who got the full SSSS treatment. A quick glance at her should've overridden the computer, but it won't. If the machine has designated you SSSS, you WILL get the full monty.

You touched briefly on the issue of political correctness overriding racial profiling, and I am not really getting into that at all, as that's probably more suited to NonAv. Sooner or later someone was going to complain about that to the TSA regardless. Someone always does, and when an individual doesn't the media does, vis a vis Sky News sending an asian reporter out with a backpack and a hidden camera to walk around tube stations in London. He got stopped and searched more frequently by the police than other travellers.
 Yeah sure



Breakfast in BHX, lunch in FAO, dinner in TIP, baggage in YYC.
User currently offlineFlyinghighboy From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 749 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 12261 times:

So a "smarter" potential terrorist will just buy a return ticket?

User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 12887 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 12236 times:

If I am correct, the 9/11 hijackers bought round-trip tickets, with some buying 1st class tickets and not at the last minute. From my experience, except for the LGA-BOS/DCA shuttles, buying tickets on the day of or the day before the flight seems to be one of the most common triggers for the dreaded SSSS "Super Stupid Silly Search". I fear that getting the SSSS will mean that I will be told "Sir, please step into the room over there, close the door, drop you trousers and bend over for a more through examination".

User currently offlineXkorpyoh From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 819 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 12112 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 4):
t's not computers over humans. It's computers doing what humans tell them to. People purchasing 1 way tickets with little notice fit a profile, that of someone not planning to come back to his point of departure and not wanting it known well in advance he's going.

Whether someone you're looking for would buy such a ticket may be questionable, but you'd catch at least the dimwits who decide when coming home from work with a termination letter they're going to kill themselves by crashing an airliner the next morning.

It's better than nothing, and with the TSA being already criticised for racial profiling and stuff like that they want (have) to be seen as doing something, anything.
They can no longer stripsearch someone looking Arabic because that would be seen as discrimination, so they pick people booking one way tickets at short notice, something they can claim truthfully doesn't involve any race at all.

if anybody is going to do any terrorism on a plane, dont you think they know by now that they need to buy a roundtrip ticket in advance? ... so the logic of the ssss for one ways is outdated right now.
I also noticed that when taking domestic flights, the TSA sends foreigners, when using passports as ID, to the search line. Not always, but i have seen it happenning to whites, blacks, indians, etc...so it is really not racial profiling.


User currently offlineRobertS975 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 931 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 12060 times:
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The computer algorithms used to determine who gets the dreaded SSSS on the boarding pass leave much to be desired. I had a flight cancel, a PVD to EWR flight with an onward connection to Europe. CO gate agents rebooked us on a BOS-EWR flight that would barely allow us to make the connection. When checking in at BOS, the computer obviously looked at this as a very recent booking and the boarding passes had the SSSS on it. Even though the itinerary had been booked for many weeks.

So even when the airline rebooks flights because of mechanicals or weather, it can still show us as a last minute booking.


User currently offlineAerofan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1517 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 11989 times:

not to mention that if u are non revviing on some carriers eg DL. you will always get the dreaded SSSS. Well at least I used to until I decided to stop fly em.
so the morale of the story is the ssss parameters need to be tweaked


User currently offlineMidnightMike From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2892 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 11974 times:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 7):
If I am correct, the 9/11 hijackers bought round-trip tickets

Hijackers bought one way tickets, & some of the tickets were bought with cash...



NO URLS in signature
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 4972 posts, RR: 18
Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 11931 times:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 7):
If I am correct, the 9/11 hijackers bought round-trip tickets, with some buying 1st class tickets and not at the last minute

You're wrong. In fact, there's a ticket agent at American Airlines who apparently ignored clear violations of their security policy because they were demanding and she didn't want to profile this group of arab men buying tickets with cash at the last minute one-way. First/Not First doesn't enter into the SSSSSS calculation, by the way, at least not in the way you might think.


User currently offlineHalophila From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 643 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 11685 times:

Quoting Vincent32 (Thread starter):
Or was I possibly flagged by the SSSS letters for purchasing my ticket about 5 hours before the flight which raised suspicion?

I've had this 4 times in the past. The most interesting time was when I was scheduled to fly US from LAX/PHL/CUN, but the flight LAX/PHL got cancelled (at 4.30 am I might add), and got re-scheduled on AA/MX via MIA - a flight leaving only an hour and a half from when I was re-booked. So I caught the bus over to T4, and then waited 40 mins in line to check-in, followed by a further 35 mins to the front of the security checkpoint. Presumably because of the last-minute ticket purchase, I had SSSS on my boarding pass, and had to do the extra search. I ran to the plane, got on, and the doors literally closed behind me. On arrival in MIA, I changed 'areas' (not sure if they're terminals or not) and went to the MX departure gate (this time no extra search). Fortunately, I went to the ticket counter to ask for immigration forms, whereupon the gate agent said "come with me" and took me back to security. Evidently I had SSSS on my boarding pass there too, which the TSA screeners hadn't seen/noticed, and I had to have a search again. Most peculiar situation - I'm just glad they didn't clear out the terminal!

Quoting Vincent32 (Thread starter):
Then stepped into a chamber that blew air all around me (I'm assuming for explosive/gunpowder residue)

He he... If that happened to me I'd be suspicious that it was because my deodorant gave up working! (joking!!!!)  Smile



Flown on 707, 717, 727, 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 741 742 743 744 74SP 757 753 762 763 772 773 77W D10 DC9 M11 M80 M87
User currently offlineACDC8 From Canada, joined Mar 2005, 7637 posts, RR: 37
Reply 14, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 11656 times:

It's just hurting the industry in my opinion, does no real good by screening people buying a last minute one-way ticket. Just because the hijackers involved in 9/11 purchased their tickets in this manner doesn't mean the possible next ones will, especially that they know chances are they will be extra screened.

Now, take this scenario: You have a change in plans and need to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible for an important meeting. You go to an airlines website, purchase a one-way ticket (because you don't know how long you'll be) and will be flying on the next flight. You then print out the ticket and check-in online because the airlines are making it convenient for you to and trying to get you to your destination as quickly and hassle free as possible. Now, you get to the airport and get singled out because your itinerary matches the one that some over paid "analyst" came up with because some bad guys used it in the past and most likely never will again in the future. Now, imagine because of this fiasco, you miss your flight? Who's responsible for that?

Sorry, but I think that it's just silly PR tactics that have no real benefits and is hurting the industry.



A Grumpy German Is A Sauerkraut
User currently offlineBrokenrecord From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 772 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 11652 times:

I've only had this happen twice, and both times, I know the cause.

First time was the last flight on an itinerary that included 5 one-way flights in 4 weeks.

Second and most recent was due to a last-minute, full-fare, two city, one-way ticket that included a somewhat obscure (in my opinion anyway) city in Texas (Abilene), on an airline that I do not normally fly (AA, and hadn't flown them in 7 years). On that trip, I was flagged on both legs.

Also, I have a coworker, who unless he books the ticket with his middle name included, he is automatically flagged, as someone with the same name as him is on a no-fly list.


User currently offlineSkyhawk From United States of America, joined May 2001, 1066 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 11592 times:

Aerofan-I really don't know why you would be getting the SSSS on your boarding card, my husband works for Delta and neither myself, my husband, nor our son has ever gotten this notation. Not to mention none of our friends that have used his "buddy" passes.

User currently offlineDLKAPA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 11578 times:

The only thing I can think of that SSSS stands for is Super Special Security Screening. They don't take into account that sh!t happens (like not having a car) and for a little feeder flight this is kind of ridiculous. If someone booked a last-minute transcon one way out of NYC and showed up with just their person, that's a little suspicious. But for a feeder flight? Give me a break.

User currently offlineRobertS975 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 931 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 11414 times:
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Well, when you stop and think about it, isn't it stupid to print the SSSS on the BP and alert the individual that he will be subject to extra scrutiny.

User currently offlineXkorpyoh From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 819 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 11388 times:

Quoting RobertS975 (Reply 18):
Well, when you stop and think about it, isn't it stupid to print the SSSS on the BP and alert the individual that he will be subject to extra scrutiny.

Agree!... if they have something that they were trying to sneak in, they will take it out of the bag before going to security ....duhh!.

My other question is: are they printing the SSSS on last minute purchases because there is not enought time to do a background check?
I am assuming the airlines are doing background check to make sure nobody from the black list gets onboard.


User currently offlineCkfred From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 5068 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11367 times:

This just shows that TSA needs to move on the trusted flyer program, so people can avoid hassles like this.

User currently offlineCO2BGR From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 558 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11304 times:

On DL to do an OAL jumpseater we enter PPR*NONE and fill out a template (name included) to print a seat request card which automaticly does the SSSS, then we can exempt them. That is probably what the agent did. ID90 perhaps? We can also exempt an OAL xfr if they were not selectees origionally. However thats as a small airport wher the other airlines counter is 10 feet down the line which we do all of the hadleing for them anyway. DL/CO/NW any way AA and US are like 50 feet away.


There are too many self indulgent weiners in this town with too much bloody money" Randal Raines- Gone in 60 Seconds
User currently offlineHBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11272 times:

After I visited Cuba (on a holiday) all my US flights are accompanied by the SSSS letters.

I have to add that my passport was not stamped (this is deliberately done by the Cuban authorities in order not to bring tourists in trouble - I met quite a few US citizens who told me pretty adventurous stories about their connections to Cuba - like booking a hotel in Cancun for the period they stayed in Cuba and the like in order not to evoke suspicion when reentering the US).

Before that it was about every third, now all...and that were over 20 now.

Might be a coincidence..

I regard it as funny by now, but I know that it can take time and I always calculate some minutes for the SSSS procedure beforehand.

All agents I have had recently were helpful and did not hassle me at all which was nice.


Cheers

[Edited 2005-10-09 18:51:25]

[Edited 2005-10-09 18:55:51]

[Edited 2005-10-09 18:57:04]


Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
User currently offlineMD80fanatic From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2659 posts, RR: 10
Reply 23, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11220 times:

It looks to me like the terrorists have already won. Look at what we are doing to good honest people, it's disgusting. It is time to wake up people. There have been far more aircraft accidents due to mechanical failures and pilot error since 9/11 than bonified "terror related to airliners" incidents.

Rather than choking the remaining life out of the industry by insulting it's customers, perhaps a better option would be to over-staff the mechanical/repairs sector?


User currently offlineWidebody From Ireland, joined Aug 2000, 1152 posts, RR: 8
Reply 24, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 11030 times:

I don't think a trusted flier system would work, it seems to imply that a potential terrorist would never have flown before.

25 Rivet42 : ... with all the issues raised above, the only really logical solution for water-tight security is to apply the extended search to everyone. The whole
26 ACDC8 : I can see your point on this. But where will it stop? How far can a Government (especially of a "Free" country)? No Government can guarantee 100% saf
27 Rivet42 : Agreed! But given that extended security checks across the board may be unworkable, how much of a risk is determined as acceptable? You rightly point
28 ACDC8 : That's the question. What is a level of acceptable risk and who can have the authority to establish this and enforce it? I know that there are people
29 AirFrnt : No. The terrorists win when they kill massive amounts of innocent people for political purposes, outlaw all religons except Sharia (or force all the
30 ACDC8 : I see it differently. A terrorist uses violence and death to achieve their goal of taking away our freedom and security. They have most definitely ac
31 MD80fanatic : The purpose of terrorism is to generate fear....and the reaction of the world's governments regardings their respective nation's airlines (especially
32 Lijnden : I had a full SSSS treatment on my flights last May with United / Horizon ORF>ORD>SEA>YKL>SEA>IAD>ORF. I bought the tickets via Yahoo travel. What I do
33 DeltaGator : I got the dreaded SSSS last summer when flying NW for two weeks in and out of Michigan. I normally fly DL but flew NW to get to GRR when I wanted to t
34 FLAIRPORT : Yes...but some poeple buy 1 way to fly different airlines for schedule/price. Yes! Thank God they didn't buy round trip tickets or we'd all be SSSS's
35 OzFlyer : The United States was founded on the principles of non-interventionist government, and one of the underpinnings of our entire society is that we are "
36 ACDC8 : Agreed with 100%! Also agreed with 100%!
37 Post contains images Vincent32 : Wow thanks everyone...quite the array of ideas here. I did give CO my DL Skymiles number and it is surprising that they cant look-up all the trips I'v
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