Air travelers frustrated by security checks: IATA study

IATAGENEVA: Air travelers are most frustrated by the queuing time for security checks, removing shoes and belts, apart from electronic items and liquids from their carry-on bags, a latest IATA study has said.

Interestingly, a significant majority of 75 per cent would rather go through a full body scanner than have a full pat down by a security officer, said the survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

It further added that a similar number 73 per cent of air travelers, respondents were willing to share personal background information with governments in order to speed up security screening.

The 2012 survey, released by IATA here last evening, contains responses from nearly 3,000 travelers from 114 countries who had traveled by air in the past 12 months. More than half the respondents had booked their flights themselves, mostly through an airline website.

Keeping these and other important findings in mind, the IATA has come up with several recommendations for airlines, airports and governments to follow to make air travel smoother and hassle-free, said Kenneth Dunlap, IATA’s Director (Security & Facilitation).

Among the respondents of the survey, 77 per cent were comfortable to use biometric identification for more convenient airport transit and 71 per cent would prefer to use a self-boarding device at the gate, such as a mobile phone.

An even greater majority (86 per cent) were prepared to provide the airline their passport details in advance to allow a smoother journey. While only a quarter of the respondents have ever used an automated immigration border gate on arrival at an airport using their ePassport or ID card, as high as 91 per cent said they would be interested in such a service to allow a faster arrival process.

Among the IATA recommendations, IATA is developing a ‘Known Traveler Program’, which is to be implemented by 2017, asking governments to develop capabilities for data-driven risk assessment through identity authentication and verification, Dunlap said, emphatically adding that he was completely against racial profiling or intrusion in privacy.
Simultaneously, the improvements in technology would do away with the hassles of removing belts and shoes, with security scanners featuring automatic target recognition capability, Dunlap said.

Such technologies have been tested this year as pilot projects at Geneva, London Heathrow and Amsterdam airports and a dozen more trials at other cities are scheduled in 2013, the IATA officer said, adding that these trials would support the rollout of the first end-to-end checkpoint prototype in 2014.

“We hope that by 2020, passengers would have a walk- through experience without interruption unless the advanced technology identifies a potential threat,” Dunlap said.

Apart from the security and related aspects, the survey also showed that nearly all air travelers or 98 per cent preferred proactive notifications of flight disruption, terming it as a good idea, preferably through text messages to their mobile phone.

Regarding travel experience, more than half the air travelers suggested arriving at destination was their favorite aspect of the travel journey, whereas only 24 per cent selected experience on board the aircraft.

The most popular activities on a flight were watching movies (41 per cent), followed by reading (21) and sleeping (17). -PTI