Travel

What does SSSS mean on your boarding card? Letters and codes explained


A boarding pass is essential to your travel (Picture: Getty)

Travelling is never quite as simple as buying a ticket and boarding a flight, even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Take your boarding card for example – on the surface, it provides all the information you need for your journey, from the flight number to the boarding gate.

But beyond the more obvious information, there are lots of codes and numbers on there that may look confusing, and recently one, in particular, has caught people’s attention – SSSS.

What does it stand for, and what do other codes on your ticket mean for your journey?

What does SSSS mean on your boarding card?

Some codes on your boarding pass refer to how much attention you may receive from security (Picture: Getty)

TikTok influencer and travel expert Michelle (@laxtoluxury) recently posted an explainer on the SSSS code, highlighting that it is something you really don’t want to see on your boarding card.

She revealed that it stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection – meaning that the ticket holder has been selected for additional screening by security.

This means security is more likely to give you a pat-down search, or that your bags may be more thoroughly searched than others who do not have the code on their boarding pass.

The SSSS code is usually assigned randomly, but some people could find themselves getting picked multiple times if something is flagged as suspicious in their information.

In another video, Michelle – who is based in Los Angeles – explained that if you do get the quadruple S on your boarding pass a lot, there is a trick that could help.

‘If you go to the US Department of Homeland Security website, you can apply for a redress number which prompts the DHS to review your record and clear up any erroneous or weird info that could be triggering the additional security measures.

‘Once they’ve investigated your records and you’re hopefully cleared, you’ll want to input your redress number on all of your flight reservations going forward, and you should hopefully be good to go.’

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What do other codes mean on a boarding pass?

The information on your boarding card details everything from the airline you’re flying with as well as acting as a security pass and an identity document.

Here is a breakdown of what some of the other codes on your ticket mean:

Flight code and number

This is often two uppercase letters, followed by a four-digit number. The two letters refer to the airline (for example, BA for British Airways) while the flight number is determined by the airline using a complex algorithm that takes into account past and future flights.

Different airlines will have different codes and numbers (Picture: Getty)

Passenger Name Reference

This is a randomly generated six-digit code that appears on your boarding pass.

It is what identifies you as a unique passenger, and can hold such details as your meal selection, as well as helping differentiate you from other passengers, particularly if a fellow flyer happens to have the same name as you.

A floating letter

A floating letter may appear next to your seat assignment, flight number, or even just adjacent to the date and time of your flight.

It is a letter that signifies your airline status, and how likely you are to be given an upgrade based on how frequently you fly with an airline or what ticket option you have selected.

An ‘A’ or ‘F’ tends to mean first-class treatment, while a ‘B’ means you’re more likely to get upgraded than if you have a ‘Q’ or a ‘Y’ on your ticket, which are typically used on cheaper ticket options.

‘Y’ stands for economy class, while ‘Q’ is an economy ticket purchased at a discounted rate.


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