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Despite improvements, TSA checkpoints still aggravate, says study

Although air travelers in the U.S. are satisfied with the Transportation Security Administration’s efforts to improve the security check process, they are still frustrated with the process, said a study by the United States Travel Association.

The association’s survey, released as the TSA turns 10 years old this month, said a majority of travelers support the agency’s improvements to the security screening process, like more flexible checks for children, pre-flight approval programs and electronic screening machine software upgrades. But travelers still say having to wait in time-consuming checkpoints queues is one of the biggest travel irritants they have.

The study, released by US Travel  on Nov. 16 , said travelers are generally satisfied with TSA’s overall performance, with 66 percent saying they are satisfied, while only 13 percent said they were dissatisfied.   

It added that a “strong majority” of air travelers supported TSA’s efforts to smooth out the process, saying it is on the “right track” with trusted traveler programs like PreCheck, the elimination of pat-downs for children and Advanced Imaging Technology machine software upgrades that eliminate detailed personal images of passengers.

However, while the study showed passengers marked frustration with fellow passengers, TSA security procedures weren’t far behind. Seventy two percent of those surveyed said fellow passengers bringing too many carry-on bags, while 68 named waiting in TSA security lines as a top frustration. Other TSA procedures also scored high marks for frustrating passengers, including 62 percent who said removing shoes, belts and jackets was a pain. Unfriendly TSA personnel was chosen as the chief irritation by 42.5 percent.

To help alleviate the aggravation, the association recommended expanding the PreCheck program beyond its current parameters to include passengers not enrolled in the specific frequent flyer programs currently participating. TSA is currently testing the program at Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Miami airports using Delta and American airlines’ frequent flyer passengers.

The association said airlines must also work with TSA and the travel industry to decrease the number of carry-on bags going through passenger checkpoints and continue to focus on reducing the nitty-gritty hassles of the security screening process.

“We can reduce the hassle of flying without compromising security,” said U.S. Travel’s President and CEO Roger 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.”


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