Air Travel: Airline Bag Policies a Barrier to Travel

Consumer frustrations with  air travel remain high this travel season, so high that two out of every five air passengers would rather not fly, a new survey by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) shows. A November survey by the association noted that four of the top five air traveler frustrations are related to the checkpoint process.

USTA says travelers should ask for two gifts from the airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "First, TSA should expand its PreCheck trusted traveler program to allow more travelers an efficient and swifter screening process."

Second, the association says airlines should remedy the carry-on chaos that's clogging checkpoints. "A relatively minor change to airlines' luggage policies should be made to include in the price of a ticket the costs associated with checking one piece of luggage."

"Our research shows that reducing hassle without compromising security will encourage more Americans to fly — as many as two to three additional trips a year — leading to an additional $85 billion in spending that would support 900,000 American jobs," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of USTA. "TSA should expand its PreCheck program for all travelers to enjoy, and airlines should take steps to reduce the amount of carry-on luggage choking our nation's checkpoints."

Additional survey findings cited by USTA include:

When it comes to holiday air travel, most passengers pack heavy and bring their gifts.
    •    A majority of passengers (70 percent) say they will check at least one bag during their holiday travels.
    •    A majority of all passengers (58 percent) will bring holiday gifts with them.
    ◦    More than half (63 percent) will check their holiday gifts.
    ◦    One third (32 percent) will carry their gifts onto the plane.
    •    Most passengers traveling without gifts chose to ship them to their final destination (65 percent).
    •    About one third (32.8 percent) of travelers said they avoid flying with gifts because it is too much hassle.
When it comes to holiday air travel, most passengers are uninformed of airline and security policies.
    •    Most passengers (56 percent) are unaware of the TSA's new pat down policy for children.
    •    More than one third (35 percent) of passengers don't know how much airlines will charge for their checked bag.
When it comes to holiday air travel, a striking number of passengers would rather not fly.
    •    Two out of every five passengers (39 percent) would rather take another form of transportation (e.g., auto, train, bus RV) than fly to reach their final destination.
The survey noted four of the top five air traveler frustrations related to the checkpoint process, though a majority of travelers were supportive of recent initiatives to improve traveler facilitation by the TSA.


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