How To Know You Will Be Searched at Colorado’s Denver International Airport
There's nothing more fun than getting ready to go on vacation. Sure, sometimes it's stressful trying to round up everything you need, get packed, and get the kids ready to leave the house on time. But once you're in the car and headed to DIA, you're home-free and not looking back.
You get to the airport, get your bags checked in, and grab your boarding pass, headed for security.
(Which, by the way... did you know you can now book your spot in advance at Denver International Airport? You can! Learn more about how to do that here.)
But then all of a sudden, you're stopped in your tracks at security. You are a "Secondary Security Screening Selection." Wait, what?
It's true. This does exist. And you can tell before you ever get to security if it's going to happen to you. If your boarding pass has the code "SSSS" anywhere on it, congratulations... you're a winner! Or loser, in this case.
According to a TSA manual that was leaked online, passengers selected for secondary screening are subject to swabbing for illegal substances, drugs, explosives, and more in addition to more thorough searches and questioning about their travel plans or even previous trips.
There is no published or leaked information as to exactly who is deemed a secondary screening selection and that's by design. It's a security measure put into place after 9/11 and isn't exactly as random as you usually are told. It's for passengers who TSA suspects may be a threat to an airline or passenger safety, and they don't want people to know in advance that they will be selected.
The best way to make sure you're not ever selected for additional screening is to get a "Known Traveler Number," usually by way of a program like TSA Precheck or Global Entry. In order to get these travel "fast passes," you must go through a background check. Then every time you book a flight, make sure you include your KTN with the booking info and not only will you be in a faster line through security, but you'll also almost always avoid additional searches.