There Are Secret Codes On Your Airline Boarding Pass & Here's Why You Don't Want 'SSSS'

It might ruin your day!

Boarding passes.
Global Staff Writer

Boarding passes.

Airline boarding passes may seem like a jumble of alphanumeric codes, but there is a method to the madness and knowing the codes could make a big difference on your next flight.

Not only do boarding passes get you on a flight, but they also include codes that mean different things to staff and security as you make your way through the airport to your departure gate.

Knowing what the codes on your boarding pass mean can help you understand your flight details better and ensure you don't accidentally throw away sensitive information.

Here's what you need to know about the codes on your boarding pass, and what to expect when you get the dreaded "SSSS" on your ticket.

What does SSSS on my boarding pass mean?

If you see the code "SSSS" on your boarding pass, then it’s safe to assume that your journey just got way more difficult.

The SSSS code stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection, as reported by Forbes, and the name says basically everything you need to know about it.

This code is exclusively used for flights involving the United States and was implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to flag passengers for additional checks, reported Conde Nast Traveller. This could be applied to you if you're on a "do not fly" or "do not board" list, if you take a lot of one-way flights or if you pay in cash or buy a last-minute ticket, CN Traveler reports.

This is definitely the code you don’t want to see on your boarding pass because it basically means you'll have to go through more intense security screenings than the average flyer.

Airline passengers with SSSS on their boarding pass are usually asked to step aside before boarding and could face a more thorough security check from a TSA agent. This can include a pat down, having hands and luggage swabbed for explosives and a thorough search of personal belongings and luggage.

What does the floating letter on my boarding pass mean?

You may notice a letter on your boarding pass that’s distinct from all the others. Different letters mean different things to different airlines, but generally, the letter marks your airline status, aka, your likelihood of getting an upgrade based on your loyalty status and which seat you booked, reported Conde Nast Traveler.

If the letter ‘A’ or ‘F’ appears on your boarding pass then you as a flyer are supposed to be offered first-class treatment.

Meanwhile, the letter ‘B’ insinuates that you are more likely to receive an upgrade.

Lastly, the letters ‘Q’ and ‘Y’ means that your ticket is the cheapest economy fare and you aren’t eligible for any upgrades or special treatment.

What does the flight code on my boarding pass mean?

The flight code and number on your boarding pass are generally two uppercase letters followed by a four-digit number. The letters represent the airline code, while the flight number is determined by the airline, taking into account past and current flight numbers, as well as other airlines with similar sounding numbers, reported Rosetta Stone.

You can use this number to track your flight status and even to look up past journeys along the same route on sites like FlightAware.

What does the six-digit code on my boarding pass mean?

This is basically a unique code to help identify the passenger to who the boarding pas belongs, reported Conde Nast.

This code is your Passenger Name Reference (PNR), record locator, reservation code, or booking code.

It's a randomly generated sequence unique to you and is necessary to retrieve your boarding pass from a computer or self-serve kiosk at the airport. The PNR also holds information about your meal preferences or other special requests, making it essential not to throw away your boarding pass in public trash cans.

There are over two dozen codes that apply to various meals, and you can find them on various sites online.

What does S/O or SPTC mean on my boarding pass?

S/O means that you have a stopover, while, SPTC indicates you have a long stop-over, reported Sophia CA Travel.

With the latter one, passengers sometimes score free hotel stays provided to them by the airlines for the inconvenience of long stopovers.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Sameen Chaudhry
Global Staff Writer
Sameen Chaudhry was a Staff Writer for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on TikTok drama and based in Toronto, Ontario.