The “No Fly List” is complex, convoluted and not exactly what everyone thinks it is … and this week’s Reader Mail would like some clarification. This week’s Reader Mail comes from Michelle, of Los Angeles, CA, who asks, “What exactly is the Selectee List that I keeps appearing in news reports? Is this like the SSSS stamp on boarding cards or does it mean someone is on the no fly list?”
Michelle, first off the “SSSS” stamp on boarding passes has largely been abolished. The SSSS stamp did nothing to prevent terrorism, and in fact if someone seeking to do harm to a flight had SSSS stamped on their boarding pass, chances are they’d find a way to remove it (there were a variety of tricks depending on how it was printed on the boarding pass) or they’d just leave the airport and not risk capture…so no, the current “Selectee List” is not exactly like the old SSSS stamps on boarding cards.
The Selectee List is comprised of approximately 30,000 to 60,000 names of people ‘of interest’ to national security. The exact number of names on the list is hard to determine, and cannot be verified by any qualified source. Those whose names appear on the Selectee List require additional screening or questioning prior to flying with an airline. The major problem with the Selectee List is that innocent and unrelated flyers with the same name, or similar names, to those on the Selectee List also get stopped, searched and questioned. Those travellers whose names appear on the Selectee List can fly, after they have been cleared through additional screening.
The Selectee List is not to be confused with the “No Fly List.” The No Fly List is exactly what you think it is … if you’re name is on the No Fly List you don’t fly. It’s that simple. Getting your name off the No Fly List can be complicated, but if your name is on that list you won’t be boarding your flights … regardless of any additional screening.
The Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight Program has been designed to eliminate the massive duplication of names on the Selectee List. This is why the Secure Flight Program now requires travellers enter more detailed traveller information when booking flights , such as their full name and ideate of birth. This information can help reduce the number of false-positives when it comes to innocent flyers getting secondary screening due to their name appearing on the Selectee List.
If you find your name on the Selectee List it is a hassle, but you’ll be able to board your flight. If your name appears on the No Fly List … call a lawyer (whether your innocent or guilty).