You Don’t Want To See This Message When Checking-In For Your Flight

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Coming back from an international flight tomorrow and received this dreaded message…

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Should I be worried, since I’ve never received this before? Has anyone else received this message before?

I’ve been searching and it appears that this could mean you’ve been selected for SSSS or Secondary Security Screening Selection at the airport. As I’ve never had SSSS before, I’m not accustomed to what forms it may present, but this sounds like it could be it.

Without giving too many details, this is a one-way international flight back to the United States.

Please share your thoughts on what this could mean? 

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  1. Good Morning,
    This used to happen to me about six years ago and I had to get a TSA redress number. I found the info on the TSA website and I believe I had to send in a copy of my birth certificate and passport.

  2. This happened to me last week on Southwest. When I called in they told me they don’t allow the last 15 people on a full flight to check in online in case of an oversell. I received my generic ticket at the front desk which got me through security, then was required to check in at the gate for a boarding pass.

  3. This happened to me on Saturday for my Sunday flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta (another time from Mexico City to Atlanta). Sure enough, I got the SSSS. I asked three employees why I got it, they all said it was random. One suggested it was because I travel frequently. The secondary screening happened at the gate for me. The full pat down, shoe check, carry-on check… A hassle yes, but only took a few more minutes at the gate. No extra forms or anything for me.

  4. Happens to me all the time when ever I fly into the US from international locations. In my experience it’s because the airlines needs to verify (either in person or being scanned at the kiosk) that my passport is valid.

    United has a feature on their app that lets you scan your passport via your phone’s camera, but I haven’t seen that on others yet.

  5. This happened to us recently at LHR when trying to check in the night prior to our one-way flight to SFO. We figured out it was due to UA not having our passport numbers on its site. My husband tried to scan our passports via our phone’s camera, as Chris reported above, but he was not able to complete the process. No problem at the airport. Helpful agent at the kiosk checked us in immediately.

  6. This happened to us yesterday for the flight we’re currently waiting for. One way flight to LAX then to PPT, Award flights. We couldn’t check in online yesterday so we were a little worried when we arrived to the airport this morning. No issues for us though. The agent pulled up our flights and printed our boarding passes and all is good.

  7. Happened to my wife on returning to MSP from Montreal PQ. TSA sometimes does simply random screeing and want to see the documents. Gate check in worked perfectly without delay or problem or other red flag of any kind. Not to worry.

  8. The reference to government regulation almost certainly means you are most likely a secondary screening selectee. There is typically different language if it’s a ticketing or documentation issue, like the bizarre “your fare does not match your itinerary” I once got with UA. One of the many things that seems illogical to those of us without security clearances about our system of watchlisting and targeting (not that a one-off on an inbound flight means you are on a “list”) is the way we give up to 24 hours advance notice that a secondary search is coming, which would seem to give a malafide selectee ample opportunity to plan accordingly…

  9. Nothing to worry about. My wife and I have both received that message in the past. You simply go to a kiosk and check in there. Don’t stand in line for an agent you don’t need to. Just go to a kiosk and you will check in with no problem.

  10. The one time it happened to me on Delta they had an equipment change and I had been upgraded from comfort + to business class, so it could mean all kinds of things.

  11. I’ve seen that message when checking in for a flight to Argentina. There is a paper you have to show indicating that you’ve paid the reciprocity fee. I was told that all flights to Argentina do this. My route was Mex-mia-eze. I think it was related to the trip starting in MEX.

  12. I think most of the comments here are not carefully reading the language of the message and are assuming “oh that one time I couldn’t check in online.”

    While I have received several error messages not allowing me to check in online. I have never received one that contained the specific “government regulations” language. I think it’s more likely they need to check your passport in person.

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