NEXT time you're heading to the airport check your boarding pass before you arrive.

And if you see SSSS on it, you could even end up being late for your flight.

The code stands for "Secondary Security Screening Selection" which means that the passenger has been selected for additional screening by security.

Anyone with this code is advised to turn up an extra half hour early for the airport, because getting through security will take considerably longer than usual.

Officials will take a particular interest in you and your luggage; giving you a pat down, swabbing for explosive residue and opening up all of your bags.

They may also require extra information to prove identity and a detailed run-down of all travel plans.

Thankfully, this usually only applies if you are flying to the US, although some passengers have said they had the code on their passes when travelling to countries such as Turkey.

The scheme was introduced by the Transport Security Administration after the 9/11 terror attacks, as an extra security measure for passengers travelling in or out of the US.



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It is unknown how many people are on the SSSS list as it is kept secret, but if you can’t check in online then it could be a sign you are on it.

In the past, the TSA has said that people are added to the list after being randomly selected by a computer.

But a TSA source has since claimed that there are other ways to get SSSS branded, including paying for a plane ticket by cash or regularly buying one-way tickets.

It’s not easy to get off the SSSS list, but anyone who wants to can appeal to the Department Of Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program.

Here is what it is like to get the SSSS code yourself, after a traveller from London spotted the dreaded code on his boarding pass.

There are other codes on your boarding pass too, for instance, the two letters at the start of the flight number denote the airline.

These two-letter codes are issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for international airlines.

It also matters whether your flight has an odd or even number. There are exceptions, but flights heading east or north are often given even numbers and those heading west or south are assigned odd numbers.

And if you see GTE on your boarding pass, it might mean you don't have a seat on a plane.

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