In press materials, Geoff Freeman, the group’s president and chief executive officer, called the findings “a concerning signal that demands action” as he outlined the issues and explained how the federal government could address them.
“The awful events of September 11 happened 22 years ago and the security experience travelers face today is effectively the same as when (the Transportation Security Administration) was first created,” Freeman said during the association’s quarterly press conference last week.
When compared to other countries, Freeman explained that the U.S. agencies tasked with managing air travel are vastly understaffed and rely on antiquated systems and processes.
As an example, Freeman described TSA requiring passengers to remove their belts and shoes and enforcing liquid restrictions on carry-ons as outdated and something most other countries adopted technological solutions instead.
Freeman said that the frustration travelers feel influences them to avoid about two trips per year. According to the survey, that figure quickly snowballs to a projected 27 million avoided trips and the loss of about $71 billion in economic activity annually.
“As a country, we’re leaving enormous demand on the table,” Freeman said, adding that passengers were willing to put up with some hassle during the COVID pandemic, but today, they’re “making more rational decisions.”
To improve the travel experience, Freeman suggested that Congress could fund the Federal Aviation Administration so it has a workforce capable of meeting its current demand, and confirm an administrator.
Also, Freeman suggested that the federal government could learn, implement, and educate the public on the newest technology for screening passengers. Specifically, he said the government should adopt biometric technology.
“This is a major solution. It’s secure and efficient,” he said, adding that nearly two-thirds of air travelers surveyed said they were willing to share biometric information to improve their air travel process.
“If the government can roll up its sleeves and focus on working with the private sector to improve the experience and efficiency of the air travel system, it will pay economic dividends well beyond our lifetime,” Freeman said.