Thursday, January 14, 2010

Travelers Willing to Trade Convenience for Security But Are Not Sold on New TSA Rules

/PRNewswire/ -- TripAdvisor®, the world's most trusted source of travel advice, today announced the results of its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security guidelines survey of more than 1,100 U.S. respondents. Although recent incidents have spurred new security guidelines and concerns, 96 percent of respondents are still planning to fly this year. Only eight percent of travelers said they have changed their 2010 flight plans at all in light of new security guidelines.

Familiar, But Not Feeling It

Seventy-two percent of travelers said they are either completely or mostly familiar with the latest TSA airport security guidelines. When asked if the new measures are appropriate, though, 42 percent said yes, 34 percent said the TSA was overreacting and 24 percent said the new guidelines are not strict enough.

TSA Doesn't Get an "A" from Travelers

Despite new security initiatives being undertaken by the TSA, 50 percent of travelers believe the agency is not doing a good job of increasing security. Twenty percent of respondents said the TSA was doing a good job, while 30 percent were unsure. About a third of respondents (33 percent) think the TSA should focus on improving airport security by providing better training for staff, while 25 percent cited increased coordination with foreign airport security officials.

Suspicions Rise

Eighty-two percent of respondents support the security "profiling" of certain passengers based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, and subjecting them to additional airport security screenings.

Security Over Convenience

Seventy-seven percent of travelers said they would rather have enhanced airport screenings, even if it meant longer lines at the airport. Thirty-five percent of travelers said they would favor a ban on carry-on luggage if it would make flights more secure.

Excited About Deals, But Dreading Delays

When asked what they were most excited about in air travel for 2010, 41 percent of travelers said great online airfare deals, followed by 15 percent for in-flight Wi-Fi and eight percent for increased airport security. When asked what they were most concerned about in air travel for 2010, 28 percent cited longer security lines, 23 percent higher airfares and 22 percent more airline fees.

Ready to Act

Ninety-nine percent of travelers said that they would take action if they observed suspicious activity on their flight. Ninety-one percent would alert a flight attendant to the suspicious behavior, while nine percent would take matters into their own hands.

Erring at Airports?

Ninety-six percent of travelers think that the level of security varies from airport to airport across the U.S. Only 37 percent of respondents think that U.S. airports are more secure than foreign airports.

Don't Tinker with In-Flight Toilets

Seventy-six percent of travelers do not think airlines should ban in-flight bathroom use during the first and last hours of flights, as was the case on some flights following December 25, 2009. Twenty-two percent of respondents would support the ban as long as there were reasonable exceptions in place, such as for travelers flying with young children.

Dressing for Airport Security Success

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they dress differently when going to the airport in order to avoid setting off the metal detector. Despite the precautions, however, 70 percent of travelers said they have set off the metal detector at the airport.

More Screenings, But Still Flaws

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they have made it through security with a prohibited item. Seventy-two percent of travelers said they have been selected for additional screening at an airport security checkpoint, with eight percent of those respondents reporting their secondary screening took place after December 25, 2009.

"Despite recent events and airport security changes, the vast majority of travelers aren't changing any flight plans for 2010," said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of new initiatives at TripAdvisor. "Travelers appreciate the need for increased security at airports so they can have safe and enjoyable flights. Ideally, enhanced security won't come with added hassle at the airport."

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