One Benefit With My Experience of SSSS in Amsterdam

I received my boarding pass from a kiosk at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and found the dreaded four letters no one wants to see printed on it: SSSS, which are the initials for Secondary Security Screening Selection that will appear on your boarding pass when you have been selected by the Secure Flight system of the Transportation Security Administration for “enhanced security screening” at the security checkpoint of an airport.

One Benefit With My Experience of SSSS in Amsterdam

SSSS Boarding pass

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I was already in the secure area of the airport — in fact, I was screened through a security checkpoint just from transferring from one flight to another within the secure area of the airport and was forced to leave behind a few unopened bottles of water and a can of cola — so I had no idea what more screening could possibly be in store for me.

First, I went through a check of my passport and boarding pass at “gate” E1, at which I was given a red envelope and a receipt of sorts that my flight actually departs from gate E20.

SSSS Boarding pass

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Shortly after arriving at the gate, a list of several dozen people appeared on the larger overhead monitor. A smaller overhead monitor with the same — but abbreviated version — list is shown in the photograph at the top of this article.

We were instructed to wait on a special line for a specific part of the desk where passengers check in for the flight, while the security area beyond the desk was being prepared.

My passport was checked yet again; but my boarding pass was withheld. The “fortunate” ones waited in the security area. “Those arrogant Dutch ***holes!” exclaimed one of them, who was apparently fed up with their security methods at the airport — although I did not quite understand his anger.

Using the boarding pass to call my name when it was my turn to be subject to extra scrutiny, I arrived with my belongings. I did not endure a “pat down”; but I was swabbed — along with my belongings. I would not call it an extensive swabbing; and the disturbance of my belongings was actually minimal at worst. I was required to remove my shoes and my belongings out of my pockets as well.

I do have to admit that the person performing the procedures was nice and polite to me, which helped ease the unpleasantness of the situation.


The one “benefit” to being selected for extra security — if you want to call it that — is that we boarded the airplane even before the passengers seated in the premium class cabin and those who earned top tier elite status…

…but although the procedure was both worse and better than I thought, I still believe that it was superfluous and unnecessary.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “One Benefit With My Experience of SSSS in Amsterdam”

  1. Chris W. says:

    Someone calling ****dutch people. Its the US that makes this f**** things happen. You wont find SSSS on any other flight as to US.

    E1 is nice. But you can do that at lounge52 too without a line. Better try that next time. unless you have no access to the lounge.

    PS. Im Dutch
    PPS. I once wrote SSSS on my boarding pass so I indeed could board first. Didnt work.

  2. Craig says:

    In arriving back from Buenos Aires at EWR, I was going through Global Entry station and upon leaving the stand, an officer came up walking to me and asked to see my receipt. In a rather rude tone, he started to ask me questions (i.e. where I went, how many days, what I do for a living etc.). After answering the questions, he wrote something on the receipt, which I believe was SS. Upon the last officer to hand the receipt to, he saw the written code on my receipt and sent me to a waiting area in which i was called 5 minutes later to speak to a CBP officer to answer similar questions and have my luggage opened and inspected. I didn’t carry much on me so I was done it under 5 minutes. They treated me nice but it shook me up a little bit. I was curious if anyone knows if this procedure was me being put manually through SSSS process or if anyone else had similar issues in past.

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