Getting Tracy Off The TSA Watch List
Annoyed by Secondary Screening? You May Need a Redress Number
(Report by Tracy … March 2023) – I have had a Known Traveler Number through Global Entry for years, yet I was pulled out for additional screening on seven straight flights out of Sacramento, once in Canada and in Portugal.
Every single time I ask why and the reply is that I am “just lucky” or that it is “totally random.” Obviously, that is untrue.
When returning from Portugal, I had to obtain my boarding pass at the counter whereas Tom was able to get his before we left the hotel. Tom’s ticket indicated pre-check, while mine was stamped SSSS. I have subsequently learned this stands for “Secondary Security Screening Selection” which is an enhanced security screening including a full body pat-down and explosive-detecting swabs. To make matters more delightful, my screening was accompanied by armed guards.
I was excited to come across a recent article in Travel + Leisure with a link on how to apply for a redress number. From the article, “A redress number … is used to help travelers alleviate recurring security issues [that’s me!] … A redress number alerts the [TSA] that a traveler may be incorrectly added to a security watch list, which happens on occasion.”
The link includes a helpful quiz to find out if the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program is right for you. I immediately tried the link and NO SURPRISE, it looked like I should qualify under the “You were unable to print a boarding pass from an airline ticketing kiosk or from the Internet,”
And possibly under the “You were delayed … boarding an aircraft” or “You are repeatedly referred for secondary screening when clearing U.S. Customs…” although they checked me before Customs so not sure that one works.
It took about 30 minutes to complete the application. I could have done it quicker had I scanned and saved my passport to the desktop before I started. Also, it is very important to have the dates, airlines and flight numbers of the flights where the incidents occurred handy. If you remember, keep your boarding pass or take a photo as it would be helpful to document your application.
I received a response within three days:
“DHS TRIP can neither confirm nor deny any information about you which may be within federal watchlists or reveal any law enforcement sensitive information. We have found that about 2% of the DHS TRIP complainants actually have some connection to the Terrorist Watchlist.”
Whaat???? The only time I was behind bars is when we took a tour of the Los Angeles Police Museum years ago.
The letter went on to state, “Where appropriate, as a result of the redress process, DHS employs a procedure to correct the information used to process travelers at the ports of entry that reduces the chance of misidentifications occurring.”
I have now been assigned a redress number. Hopefully, I will no longer be the subject of secondary screening or the object of much good-natured mockery by my traveling companions. I guess I am “just lucky.”
Mai Tai Tom Travel Tip: For those of you who are still on the fence about applying for Global Entry, on our last two trips home from Europe, from the time we disembarked, breezed through passport control and customs, and picked up our luggage, we were at the curb in just under 25 minutes! Totally worth the $100 which includes TSA PreCheck. Be sure to check with your credit card company as some of them will reimburse you for the application fee.