Not long after lifting of electronics ban imposed on some airlines, USA is now introducing enhanced security screening for transborder flights from Canada. Although I have only taken 2 transborder flights so far (AC791 from YYZ to LAX and AC578 from YYC to LAX), I was given the special SSSS treatment on my second flight.
It may sound daunting but my experience during the enhanced security screening was not unpleasant. Once you hand your boarding pass at the luggage screening area, the TSA agent will inform you that you have been randomly selected by the airline (I am still quite doubtful on this although I have no idea on what basis I was selected). They will then carefully put all your carry-on separately in a container to go through the x-ray machine. Next, you will be offered the option of either a thorough pat down or the body scanner (I opted for the body scanner as it is faster). Once cleared, they will get you to open your luggage to do a swab test looking for chemical traces (i guess looking out for explosives).
The whole process took roughly 10 to 15 minutes. The agents were serious but were never rude / unfriendly. They were pretty professional throughout the process and reassured me that there is no need to be worried (my guess is this is highly dependent on the TSA agents you get).
Prior to 19 July, only selected passengers will get this ‘royal treatment’. With the enhanced screening being a SOP now, this will definitely create a long queue for those traveling into USA. I arrived in Calgary International with only 1 hour 45 minutes to spare before my flight departs. Despite the SSSS screening, I still managed to squeeze in about 30 minutes of time in Aspire Lounge. If this was introduced during my time in Canada, I am sure I would have miss my flight to Los Angeles!