Eight in 10 U.S. travelers support a trusted traveler program that would provide alternative screening measures for American citizens who submit to a background check and meet other risk criteria, according to new research by the U.S. Travel Association. Three in four air travelers believe "there has to be a better way" to conduct air travel security screening.
Respondents would take an average of two to three more trips per year if the hassle involved in flying could be reduced without compromising security, U.S. Travel said. Those additional trips could add $84.6 billion in travel spending and support 888,000 additional jobs.
"Americans are clamoring for a better way, and it should be a wake-up call for our leaders in Washington," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel, which commissioned the survey. "An efficient air travel security screening system that streamlines the process for trusted travelers can strengthen our security and economy. Let's get to work building the system Americans crave."
A majority of those surveyed believe Congress should make air travel security a top priority in the new term that begins in January: “ We should be looking at this as an economic problem – not just a security issue,” Dow said.
"Travelers' frustration with the system is not limited to just one or two security measures. It is across the board and includes a range of issues," according to the Consensus Research Group, which conducted the survey,
Among the survey's findings:
• Having to remove shoes before going through a metal detector received a higher negative response from those surveyed than newly implemented pat-down body searches by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel.
• Nearly nine in 10 respondents believe it is possible to achieve an air travel screening system that is both secure and efficient, while virtually the same number believe if we can put a man on the moon, we can create a passenger security system that doesn't frighten or inconvenience travelers.
• Three in four air travelers support recruiting more professional security personnel who are trained to use personal observation, dogs and sophisticated computer analyses that have proven to be effective screening techniques in the past.
The U.S. Travel Association has convened a Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Aviation Security comprised of industry and security experts and former government officials. The panel will recommend how to improve air travel security in a way that maximizes security and minimizes the burden on travelers. The panel is expected to issue its report in early 2011.
Key Points of the survey include:
Three in four American travelers (75%) believe there has to be a better way to provide air travel security than the procedures used today.
• Two-thirds of air travelers (66%) believe air travel security is a complicated problem and will not accept heavy-handed procedures unless they are more effective and efficient – 72% of business travelers agree.
• Eight in ten (82%) agree that if we can put a man on the moon, we can create a passenger screening system that doesn’t frighten or inconvenience air travel passengers.
More travelers describe the current passenger screening process as “inconsistent,” “stressful,” or “embarrassing” than describe it as being “fair” or “effective.”
• Top ten words air travelers use to describe today’s screening procedures:
o Inconsistent 64%
o Stressful 58%
o Embarrassing 41%
o Intimidating 40%
o Intrusive 39%
o Fair 30%
o Ineffective 29%
o Effective 23%
o Rude 22%
o Frightening 16%
More would travel by air if the screening process was improved – and the economy would benefit.
• Nearly two in every three air travelers (64%) said they would fly more if security procedures remained as effective but were less intrusive and less time-consuming.
• Travelers would take an average of two to three more trips a year (2.48/year) if the hassle could be reduced without compromising security effectiveness. These additional trips could add $84.6 billion in spending and 888,000 more jobs.
• 80% agree there should be alternative screening measures for American citizens who submit to a background check and meet other risk criteria. In fact, half (50%) of those who have traveled recently “strongly agree” with this.
• Three in four air travelers (74%) support recruiting more professional security personnel who are trained to use personal observation, dogs and sophisticated computer analyses.
• A majority of air travelers support common-sense measures such as creating a special security lane for frequent travelers (60%) and a special screening lane for families, infrequent travelers and people who need boarding assistance (58%).
American travelers believe fixing air travel security should be a top priority in the 112th Congress.
• A majority of air travelers (54%) believe Congress should make air travel security a top priority in the new term that begins in January.
The survey was conducted online by Consensus Research Group on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association between November 29 and December 10. The survey includes a nationally representative sample of 1,000 business and leisure air travelers who have flown during the past two years, are aged 25 or older, and who reside in the U.S.