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QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

Terrigal, Australia
posts: 1,639
reviews: 311
QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

At CKS (SYD) airport on check – in, 24 March my wife and I received our Boarding Passes Upon entering the Immigration/Security area I was subjected to a very brief “frisk” search – entirely expected in travelling to the US and have been subjected to similar in the past. Just people doing their job – although it is usually my wife that is singled out due to the jewellery she insists upon wearing.

Upon transferring to JFK flight at LAX – immigration we were in a long queue facing two very busy security checkpoints. An official came down the line of perhaps 80-100 people checking Boarding Passes.

Upon reaching my wife and I – the official stopped – took hold of my boarding pass and Passport – requested me to follow him – in very strong terms and led me to a position off to one side of the queue – in the centre of the area.

He then called another official over and told him to stand with me. I enquired from this official what was happening. He remained mute – possibly trained not to engage in conversation.

I stood in this position for perhaps 10 minutes – my wife progressed by herself in the queue – she appeared as anxious as to the situation – she also had not been provided with any explanation.

At the expiry of about 10 minutes – I was asked to follow the official to an isolated area behind the security checkpoints. A second official then informed me that I was going to be subjected to an intrusive body search – also that my hand luggage would be searched.

I enquired from this official – why I had been singled out for this purpose – obviously again trained not to engage in conversation – however he showed me my boarding pass and indicated “SSSS” stamped upon the pass.

I was then subjected to an intensive “frisk search” – hand luggage was upended onto a table – subjected to a number of swipes.

I enquired on a number of occasions as to the significance of the “SSSS” notation – I did not receive a reply.

The Boarding Pass was issued at Sydney Airport – by an Australian QANTAS employee.

It would be fair to say that I have never suffered - or sustained the level of humiliation, frustration and bewilderment that I endured at LAX. The experience equally shared by my wife who had no idea as to my wellbeing or whereabouts.

All – it would seem - due to a QANTAS employee or a QANTAS computer system (employee programmed) randomly selecting me, without any explanation or forewarning - WHY?

I totally understand the US needing to exact a high level of security – and I would have no problem accepting the imposition – IF – I had been given a warning or explanation for my selection.

To be selected for this level of degradation by the airline that we had chosen and paid money to fly with is totally beyond my level of comprehension.

There would appear to be a complete lack of racial profiling or risk assessment.

We are now past - QANTAS - frequent flyers.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,987
reviews: 53
1. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

This is NOTHING to do with Qantas. SSSS is a TSA security measure and Qantas have no ability to determine who gets the SSSS on their BP.

…wikipedia.org/wiki/…section_1

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 34,759
reviews: 77
2. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

Indeed, this has nothing to do with Qantas. TSA apparently flags certain individuals (rightly or wrongly) for special attention. I used to get SSSS on many of my boarding passes years ago and went through more searching than normal. Unfortunately, these days, the extensive search might be more intrusive than when I underwent it.

That's why when flying from any US airport these days, one needs to leave enough time to clear security.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
3. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

i have been subject to quite a number of SSSS searches since 9/11.

in fact in one instance i had 4 in a row with domestic flights in the usa.

this was with united.

then again from paris to washington dc and dc to chicago.

i used to think it was because i was a foreign single male travelling on what amounted to a one way ticket (rtw's).

i must say as u found out, the first one is a bit disconcerting, but then it just became routine.

and yes the people carrying out the search are non communicative and confronting. but if u have nothing to hide then let them get on with their job.

they did however suddenly stop. nothing for 7 years or so despite very frequent visits to the usa.

i was lead to believe as stated above it's a computerised selection based on who knows what criteria. i dont believe they are random however.

so dont blame qantas.

Terrigal, Australia
posts: 1,639
reviews: 311
4. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

Thanks for the feedback Op and Sammy,

I am now better informed - if I receive SSSS again I will be forewarned and know what to expect. Purpose of my post is/was to warn other naive Aussies what to expect.

Again I must emphasize - my utter disbelief that an airline like QANTAS - who have in recent times suffered so much negative publicity - wouldn't go to the trouble of giving a paying customer a " heads up " - surely that's not too much to expect - what difference would prior knowledge make?

Vada

Sydney/Melbourne
posts: 11,517
reviews: 47
5. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

I very much doubt that Qantas or any other airline would be permitted to inform passengers beforehand that they will be subject to additional screening.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 58,219
reviews: 11
6. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

>>what difference would prior knowledge make<<

If you were a terrorist, giving prior warning would give you an opportunity to get rid of anything incriminating that you were carrying.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
7. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

but then again once u have had one SSSS u tend to check your boarding pass and in that case u are forewarned so dont think #5 and 6 arguments hold any water.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 34,759
reviews: 77
8. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

Basically the same with lien has been happening to me as well: I got a bunch of SSSS and then they just went away a few years ago. I figure that these days with the radiation bombardment machine (that some travelers object to), they really shouldn't need the SSSS hand search often.

Sydney/Melbourne
posts: 11,517
reviews: 47
9. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

Terrorists don't have to be FFs to know about SSSS. They just need to look at Wikipedia as was pointed out in #1. But since QF probably want to continue to fly passengers into the US they need to comply with TSA regulations, illogical as they may be and telling passengers beforehand is most likely not allowed by TSA.

Terrigal, Australia
posts: 1,639
reviews: 311
10. Re: QANTAS SYD - JFK - Boarding Pass Selection - beware !

>>what difference would prior knowledge make<<

<<<<<<<<<<If you were a terrorist, giving prior warning would give you an opportunity to get rid of anything incriminating that you were carrying.>>what difference would prior knowledge make<<

Any (or perhaps most ) organisations/governments in the security business have some type of risk assessment process - racial profiling process/system in place. Maybe as a retired 64 old, 183cm, 93 kg Australian male - I fit someones profile as a terrorist ??

Edited: 11:09 pm, April 16, 2012