As airports begin welcoming passengers during one of the busiest air travel periods of the year, a new survey reveals three in four air travelers believe "there has to be a better way" to conduct air travel security screening. Eight in 10 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. 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. Those additional trips would add US$84.6 billion in travel spending and support 888,000 additional jobs, according to research from the U.S. Travel Association.
"Americans are clamoring for a better way, and it should be a wake-up call for leaders in Washington," said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which commissioned the survey. "An efficient air travel security screening system that streamlines the process for trusted travelers can strengthen our security and economy."
A majority of those surveyed believe Congress should make air travel security a top priority in the new term that begins in January.
According to the Consensus Research Group, which conducted the survey, "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."
Among the survey 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 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 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.