The U.S. government can reduce consumer frustration with airport security and encourage more people to fly by adopting changes such as a “trusted traveler” program, an industry group said.
The U.S. Travel Association, whose members include American Express Co., Marriott International Inc. and Loews Corp., released a survey today showing consumers would take two to three more trips annually if security hassles could be reduced. Participants in the proposed program would undergo a background check in advance in return for less intrusive airport screening.
“Travelers are frustrated,” Roger Dow, president of the association, said on a conference call with reporters. “Our current system cannot be the best that the United States can create.”
The association, which last year persuaded Congress to adopt a fee to promote travel from overseas, is preparing recommendations for lawmakers and the Obama administration at the end of January to cut airport security hassles.
About 43.6 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines during the holiday period that runs from Dec. 16 and Jan. 5, a 3 percent increase from last year, the Air Transport Association, an airline trade group in Washington, said this month. Travelers during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in November complained of more intrusive security pat-downs at airports across the country.
American Airlines, FedEx
The Washington-based U.S. Travel Association in March created the “Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Security” to help develop recommendations. The panel includes Bob Crandall, former chief executive officer of AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, David Bronczek, president of FedEx Corp.’s Express unit, Sam Gilliland, chief executive officer of Sabre Holdings, and Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security secretary.
Dow, when releasing the survey data, declined to discuss specifics of upcoming recommendations. The association focuses on improvements such as assessing risk before passengers reach airports, shrinking the pool of people who undergo scrutiny at airports, lessening checkpoint crowding and making some security efforts optional for people with privacy concerns.
“We know there’s a better way” to screen, said Dow, whose group members also include Walt Disney Co., InterContinental Hotels Group Plc and Choice Hotels International Inc.
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