The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) came under fire from a new survey that shows four of the top five air traveler frustrations relate to the airport checkpoint process. The U.S. Travel Association reports that despite the frustrations a majority of travelers are supportive of recent TSA initiatives to improve traveler facilitation.
Commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association to mark the 10th anniversary of TSA, the survey results were announced by U.S. Travel's President and CEO Roger Dow. "I want to thank the men and women of TSA for a decade of dedicated service," said Dow. "While we recognize the significant steps TSA has taken to improve security screening, the process still remains inefficient and frustrating for millions of Americans."
Travelers are generally satisfied with TSA's overall performance as it relates to security, the survey reports. A full two-thirds, 66 percent, of air travelers are satisfied with the job TSA is doing on security and only 13 percent said they were dissatisfied.
Additionally, a strong majority of air travelers support TSA's recent efforts to improve the efficiency of the passenger checkpoint process, and they believe that the agency is headed on the "right track" with new initiatives such as the newly launched trusted traveler program PreCheck, the elimination of pat downs for children, software upgrades that replace personal body images with a generic body image and a decision to phase out the removal of shoes, U.S. Travel says.
The association reports that while travelers commend TSA for these efforts, they continue to be frustrated with the checkpoint process. In fact, four out of five air travelers reported that their top frustrations with flying are still directly related to the checkpoint process:
• 72.4 percent chose "people who bring too many carry-on bags through the security checkpoint";
• 68 percent chose "the wait time to clear the TSA checkpoint";
• 62.3 percent chose "having to remove shoes, belts and jackets at the TSA checkpoint"; and
• 42.5 percent chose "TSA employees who are not friendly".
U.S.Travel offered three recommendations:
• Airlines must allow more opportunities for enrollment in PreCheck and not discriminate against consumers who are not members of their loyalty programs
• Airlines must work with TSA and the travel industry to decrease the number of carry-on bags going through passenger checkpoints, which is a top frustration for passengers and a major security concern of TSA
• TSA must continue to focus on traveler facilitation because travelers are more willing to fly when the hassle is reduced.
"We can reduce the hassle of flying without compromising security," said Dow. "When we do, more Americans will travel and our economy will benefit. If travelers took just two to three more trips a year, it would generate $85 billion in travel and spending and support 880,000 additional jobs.