I Just Applied For A Redress Number…

As I first wrote about a bit over a week ago, I seem to be on some sort of a U.S. government watchlist. I belong to the TSA Trusted Traveler program, and am typically eligible for Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.

Why I think I’m on some sort of a list

For about a month now, I’ve gotten an “SSSS” (signaling that additional screening is needed) on my boarding pass before every single flight, despite having my Known Traveler Number on each reservation. While in the past I’ve gotten secondary screening occasionally, I’ve never had it on back to back trips, let alone six back to back trips.

So it’s clear I’m on some sort of a list, though interestingly I’ve had no trouble at immigration the two times I’ve gone through since this issue has started; I can still use Global Entry as usual.

I guess my travel patterns caught up with me, as a few weeks ago I flew through Egypt, Jordan, etc., for my most recent airline review trip.

egyptair-business-class-777-76

Obviously I’d like to do everything I can to get off whatever list I’m on. In the U.S. it adds at least 10 minutes to the screening process every time, though my bigger issue is internationally, where the additional screening is usually done at the gate. Reviewing airlines is an integral part of my business, and I always make a point of trying to be the first to board, so I can get empty cabin pictures. I can’t do that if I’m subjected to a bunch of extra screening at the jet bridge.

SSSS

What I’m trying to do about it

Fortunately the DHS has a formal process where you can inquire about your status. It’s called the DHS TRIP program, which stands for Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. In theory this should allow you to get a Redress number, which you can add to your reservation so that you’re not constantly subjected to additional screening.

So I submitted an inquiry, which was a pretty straightforward process.

I was just asked to select my areas of concern (I chose “I am always subjected to additional screening,” “I am directed to a ticket counter every time I fly,” etc.). On the next page I just entered my name, passport information, and a brief explanation of my concerns (I explained I’m a travel blogger and review airlines, and realize the places I travel to might look suspicious, but…).

DHS-Trip

Then I was asked to print the confirmation page, sign it, and email that along with a copy of my passport to the DHS. Once I did that, I got the following auto-response:

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).
We have received your email. Please allow two to three business days for a reply.  This timeframe may increase during holidays, weekends, or other periods.
Thank you for your patience.
Sincerely,
DHS TRIP

2-3 days seems super fast. Then again, I’m not sure exactly what this process is like, or what sort of response I should expect in two to three days. I assume I won’t have an email in a few days stating “hey, we got you off the list, here’s your Redress number,” but rather that any follow-up email would just be the start of a long process.

Has anyone gone through a similar process? What was it like?

I’ll be sure to post again with any follow-ups, as I’m sure I’m not the only person facing this situation.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. It took about a week for me, to get redress number after submitting the application. After that, I’ve never gotten SSSS.

  2. Wow, i didn’t know you could ask that. I am always subjected to second immigration screening when going through US immigration, and i’ve always wanted to know why….i’m just afraid to ask why they stop me every single time.

  3. I did trips before to Pakistan and I kept getting this dreaded SSSS arriving and leaving the States AND I have global entry. I got it for four months straight. It got to a point where the check in agents for the airline I frequently take knew I was their Emerald member who kept getting SSSS.

    There were a couple of occasions where I had a big fat X across my picture, using GE. I was subjected to a 40 min interview, which was not pleasant. Luckily, on one occasion, I explained to them how business fares were different in certain markets and understood.

    Since that time, I’ve not gotten SSSS and this has been three years.

    I guess you avoid going to those countries that are on that list and the SSSS will go away.

  4. @ Ben — Your problem can be solved in one easy step. Send a donation to :

    Idiot In Charge
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20500

  5. The only time that I have every received “SSSS” was the time that I did not check and bag. Might that be an issue? However, I am leaning toward your recent travel pattern and destinations being the reason.

  6. What did you EXPECT! – You keep going to the Arab world -they are right! – they do not know who you are and want to protect —

    I have wondered if your readership cares so much about mid-east travel – it is only a small “part” of the world -Europe-Asia- America – China I would think deserves the spotlight

  7. @Rodrigo — Immigration is different unfortunately and probably can’t be helped (especially now). This is secondary screening at security.

  8. I have known travellers number (global entry) and I have redress number. I have them both for many years. I still get SSSS occasionally but not overwhelming. At least I know it 24 hours advance when I can’t get through online check in “due to unknown reason,please see agent for check in at airport”. I still get in line at security for expedited screening like always and when I get to officer and he sees SSSS he directs me to FRONT of looooong regular line to be first at officer there. If I have a travel.partner, I give my carry on luggage to her/him so they have nothing to unpack and examine under a microscope.

  9. Wow, didn’t know I should apply for this. I have consistently received the SSSS for about 6 years now once I started traveling a lot between the US and Brazil. I have Global and TSA Pre.

    My wife now gets the SSSS after she took my last name….

    Looks like we should both apply!

  10. @BILL, it may be a small part of the world, but it certainly is the least travelled, and therefore, quite interesting. That’s just my opinion.

  11. My global entry was always declining upon arrival and it was getting to the point I had to go in the back room and wait it out. Finally they said they couldn’t tell me why but that I could do the process you’re doing and I did it. Took a while but I’m sorted now.
    One officer said that someone with my name or DOB had a warrant out for them but they could see that it was not me.
    It really sucked for a long long time.
    Good luck with that!

  12. I got a redress number a year or 2 after 9/11. I never had problems before. This was back in the day before the would accept email(TSA had just been created). Mailed in a copy os passport, a form, and a notarized affidavit. Took a few months to finally get it back. Never had a problem since.

  13. Redress # solved the problem for me and my wife. We both had SSSS every flight after we made two one-ways to/from IST rather than one r/t (used miles for biz class seats). Our kids, both <13, did not get SSSS but were subjected to the full monty as well, bringing the younger one to tears. Once the redress was issued, no more SSSS.

    Good luck.

  14. I was refused Global Entry because it said I wasn’t eligible, although I clearly was. Ever since then I have gone to secondary screening, at which I have been asked random questions (no common thread) before being admitted to the USA. I was advised to get a Redress Number – the process was as you described. I received a letter saying nothing other than they had reviewed my case. But, since then, although I always get an X on the slip of paper from the machine, I have been admitted without going through secondary screening.

    So the process appears to work but seems unnecessarily opaque and unaccountable.

  15. Had the same SSSS issue and filed out the form. They don’t get back to you with any specific information just that your complaint has been noted. Still get SSSS but only when traveling back into the US from an international trip

  16. I am on the SSS list too. I figure it is just the new Trump world we live in where the government tries to control every move of it’s citizens. I mean the system has gotten to the point of ultimate paranoia and I think it will just get worse.

  17. @matt dude Trump had only been in office 10 days. dont blame everything bad from the past 8 yrs on the successor and credit everything from here on to the precedent – common sense.

  18. @Bgriff this is the way to get you out of frequent secondary CBP inspection. One of my friend had frequent referral to secondary inspections by primary inspection agents, then he applied this redress number and got approved. From that time on he had no more second CBP inspection.

  19. My husband was on the “list” and got SSSS before every flight. We weren’t sure if it was because we spent one day in Turkey, or because he doesn’t have a middle name. He applied for the redress number and got a letter back saying his inclusion on the list was “appropriate” and he would not be removed. However, he stopped getting SSSS on the very next flight and hasn’t gotten it since.

  20. After receiving the same email, I submitted an additional documents and then it took about a month to process for me.

  21. Amazing how some of you are trying to politicize this with one harebrained comment after another.

    Maybe you people really are just attention seeking snowflakes who have to interject their agenda into everything. People will tire of that game pretty rapidly and I would guess you will end up doing your cause more harm than good.

  22. Same thing happend to me after visiting Istanbul. I had SSSS on the next 4 flights, I had sent the email and redress right after but it took several weeks. They never responded but haven’t gotten SSSS again yet. The worst part is they also screened everyone I was travelling with, even a family member with dementia and it was an unpleasant experience

  23. Good Lord Bill, get a grip. Middle Eastern airlines are often exotic and interesting. He’s not going to review Sheboygan to Wichita over and over again, is he?

  24. Glad to know all our tax dollars are being used to screen out all these potential terrorists.
    What a joke the US system is. It’s all about making the general public feel better, not about actual security.

  25. @bgriff – it probably won’t work for me now, but i thought about trying the option where it says “i am repeatedly reffered for secondary screening when clearing US customs and border protection”. Doesn’t it mean the actual immigration line?

  26. I’d be very concerned about e-mailing an unencrypted copy of my passport, signature, and whatever other personal information is on the form they have you complete. Did they give you the option to upload these files through a secure website—or just mail the documents?

  27. I used to always get stopped at security, at the gate (most annoying) and at immigration get sent for extra questioning, sometimes in a separate room and have my bags searched.

    Once I asked the offer after I got my passport back if I had some sort of flag against my name as the stops weren’t random as they were happening all the time. The officer said no but since then I’ve had a much easier time at immigration, especially now that I have Global Entry and KTN.

  28. Who cares about empty cabin pictures. The airlines have plenty of marketing pictures of the seats.

    We want to know how it feels from the perspective of sitting in the seat and the service flow.

  29. I have TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Most of the time there are no issues but 3 times in the past 12 months I have been selected for additional hand screening at the gate before boarding a US bound flight (Doha, Heathrow and Cancun). I don’t recall seeing SSSS on my boarding pass. Are these screenings normal or should I also look into getting a redress number?

  30. @Rodrigo This will absolutely help you, yes. (@bgriff apparently doesn’t understand the different applications for a redress number).

  31. amazing how the US process works.

    Cheaper to just automatically add every US citizen that ever goes to or comes from certain countries. Then make the citizen go to extra steps to ‘clear their name’

    Keeps that pesky human labor cost down. And in the coffers of the gov’t consulting firms so they can have parties/conventions in Vegas.

  32. Do you know what to do if you are not US citizen and also get SSSS quite frequently? Btw. Such example: Flying to US, you have connection in Munich, however your plane to MUC was delayed – gate for the flight to US will close in 3 minutes, you are almost there… but you were selected for secondary inspection. Can they skip the inspection or you will have to wait for next plane? Almost happened to me last time – was one the last persons to board the plane.

  33. Ditto to most of the comments above.

    ALSO – contact your state Senator and House Reps, ask for their help, if you don’t hear right back. They can be of help in these cases.

  34. I’ve been Pre-Check/Global Entry for 5 years now, and the only time I got SSSS was on a return flight from SJO-CLT, and they had me go through additional inspection, including pat down, before boarding. It was a one-and-done deal, so I’m guessing it was random.

  35. Why have SSSS at all if it is so easy to have it removed? An email with passport, etc and suddenly the SSSS goes away? Sounds pretty dumb to me. My experience of entering/leaving the US is that Immigration/Security officials are there to intimidate. They are sullen and often downright rude. It’s the most unwelcome entry into a country I’ve experienced anywhere. I’m all for security and making life safer for everyone but what’s so secure about a system that it can be made disappear with a brief questionnaire and an email?

  36. I certainly feel for you. When I was working for SkyWest the no fly list was terribly long and that was ’04-07.

    As I’ve stated on other threads, I cashed in my Mileage Plus (235,000 miles and $149!) and taking an around the world in 8 days trip in a couple of weeks: 1 nt HKG, 2 each in BKK and FCO and 82 block hours of air. All in F/C.

    Anyway applied for known traveler last Friday, fingerprinted on Monday and received email with link to my number yesterday. I needed to renew my Passport as I only had 4 months left and didn’t want to risk it considering the current political climate. I live 2 miles from the passport agency in Tucson. Went in Wednesday and they had it ready by 2:45pm yesterday. Everyone super nice; couldn’t have been better.

    I’ll be traveling with a small backpack and a 22″ carry on so we shall see what happens with various countries/customs.

    Wish me luck

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