The hallmarks of the air travel security system in the United States today—long lines, shoe removals, pat-downs, and so on—aren’t just an inconvenience, they’re also steering people away from air travel. In a new study of 1,000 people who had flown at least once in the past two years, nearly two out of three said they would fly more if security procedures were equally as effective as they are now but less intrusive and time consuming.
The air security system has become an economic issue, not just an inconvenience, said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which conducted the research in partnership with Consensus Research Group. The study of travelers’ views of the security screening process reports that travelers would take an average of 2.48 more flights per year if the security system was less burdensome. U.S. Travel extrapolates those additional trips to be worth $84 billion in spending and 888,000 more jobs to the U.S. economy.
The study was released in advance of a report due out in late January from the “Blue-Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Aviation Security.” The panel, organized by U.S. Travel, will recommend how to improve air-travel security. Dow says that it will be a “very comprehensive report,” and will be delivered to lawmakers. “We have a very big opportunity with the new Congress to make this a high priority,” Dow says.
Other results from the new survey:
- Four out of five air travelers agree there should be alternative screening measures for U.S. citizens who submit to background checks and meet other risk criteria.
- The top three words respondents use to describe today’s screening process are: “inconsistent,” “stressful,” and “embarrassing.”
- Fifty-four percent of those surveyed believe Congress should make air-travel security a top priority in the new term that begins in January.
- Having to remove shoes before going through a metal detector received a higher negative response than pat-down body searches by Transportation Security Administration personnel.
- Three out of four respondents believe “there has to be a better way” to provide air-travel security than the procedures used today.
”Everyone says security trumps everything,” explains Dow, “but most agree there’s a better way of getting at it. Our current system cannot be the best system the United States can create.”