I have always experienced issues when travelling to the US. I can never check in online, at curb-side or using a kiosk. I always need to be checked in by an agent and my boarding card often has SSSS printed on it. SSSS stands for Secondary Security Search Selectee. What it means is that you get a more thorough check before being allowed on the flight. For example, when flying to the states I would get searched again at the gate.
Normally the process would be:
- Everything taken out of my bag and swabbed
- Flick through the pages in books to see if anything falls out.
- Turn on all electronic devices
- Remove shoes, swabbed and scanned
- Inside of jeans waist and boxers waist would be swabbed
- Patted down more thoroughly.
I’ve gotten used to the extra checks and it doesn’t bother me – I’m more worried about the ability to check in online. Some people get very worked up when they get checked including one lady shouting that her human rights were being violated but all that does is delay you further.
After talking to the staff in the United Lounge I was told to apply for a redress number. The application process is simple, fill out a small form, send in a photocopy of a signed form and copy of your passport by email or post and then wait. You can check the progress of your application online.
I sent in my passport and signed form by email after this the status online showed as ‘Pending Paperwork‘. After 8 working days the status changed to ‘In Process’. Then about 6 working days later the status showed as ‘Closed’. After 2 weeks I received the letter explaining the outcome. Overall it was much quicker than I expected it to be.
The letter isn’t very specific which is to be expected. “…. DHS Trip can neither confirm nor deny any information about you which may be within federal watchlists or reveal any law enforcement sensitive information. … Your experience was most likely caused by a misidentification against a government record or by random selection” It goes on to explain that I should provide my Redress Control Number to the airline when booking flights to or within the United States.
Since this issue happens every time I fly to America for over 10 years I very much doubt it was ‘random selection’. I’ve added my redress control number to my upcoming reservations so it will be interesting to see if the redress control number makes a difference.
Getting pulled for extra security can be random in the US so if it does happen to you once or twice I wouldn’t bother getting a Redress Control Number but if it happens continually it is worth trying. The process is simple and relatively quick.