SSSS monitor list
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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.


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