Airport security: Majority of Americans are “satisfied,” but new data shows a drop


PLYMOUTH, MN — Today, Travel Leaders Group released its latest survey findings on American travelers’ satisfaction with airport security. As the number of those satisfied has dropped to 63.6%, the number of dissatisfied has grown 5.4% year over year to 17%.

Overall, despite news reports on longer security lines at many airports nationally, 52.3% of those polled expressed that they are “OK with the amount of time” it takes to pass through airport security, with a direct correlation to the rise among consumers indicating they’re using TSA Pre✓® “all the time.” The survey was conducted April 4 to April 30, 2016, and includes responses from 3,431 consumers throughout the United States.

“There is a very delicate balance that must be maintained between the utmost safety and security of air travelers and making certain airports and airlines operate effectively and efficiently.

Increasingly, we’ve seen longer lines at airport security checkpoints nationwide that could be further exacerbated by peak summer travel,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “That’s why Travel Leaders Group works closely with the Department of Homeland Security to help our travel agents in advising clients on ways to decrease individual wait times. We are actively promoting and educating clients on TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry. Even semi-frequent airline passengers can greatly benefit from these programs.”

Key Findings:

Airport Security Satisfaction: When asked, “What is your level of satisfaction with airport security today?” 63.3% indicated they are satisfied and 19.4% stated they are neutral about today’s security measures – which is down slightly compared to last year. While the percentage of travelers expressing dissatisfaction with TSA has jumped, it is still the third lowest percentage over the past six years.

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Satisfied 63.6% 65.8% 64.2% 62.2% 66.2% 60.2%
Neither satisfied nor unsatisfied 19.4% 22.6% 23.3% 19.8% 16.8% 18.0%
Unsatisfied 17.0% 11.6% 12.5% 18.0% 17.0% 21.8%

Overall Airport Security Wait Times: When asked, “With regard to how long it takes to get through airport security, are you…” over 52% of consumers polled are “OK with the amount of time it takes,” which is an increase of nearly 8% compared to last year at this time.

2016 2015 2014
OK with the amount of time it takes 52.3% 44.4% 39.6%
Wish it was somewhat quicker 33.8% 44.5% 46.3%
Frustrated by the amount of time it takes 13.9% 11.1% 14.1%

Trusted Traveler Programs: When asked whether or not survey participants have enrolled in Global Entry, only 18.6% said “Yes,” while nearly a third (32.4%) said they have registered and been approved for TSA Pre✓®.

TSA Pre✓®: When asked, “Has the TSA Pre✓® program at U.S. airports made a significant difference in wait times for security screening?” the percentage of those polled answering favorably increased.

2016 2015 2014
Yes, I use it all the time 20.3% 14.4% 7.6%
Yes, it’s reduced wait times for regular screening 24.0% 26.1% 17.6%
No 11.1% 14.5% 13.1%
I don’t know 44.6% 45.1% 61.7%

Expedited Screening: It should also be noted that when asked, “Have you experienced ‘expedited’ screening at an airport in the last 12 months?” 54.3% stated “Yes” and 45.7% said “No.” Last year 46.9% of those polled said “No” and in 2014 that number was 60%.

Eliminate One TSA Security Measure: With regard to TSA security screening at the airport, when asked, “Which of the following TSA security measures would you most like to eliminate?” the top responses were: “removing of shoes” (31.5%), “none, do not eliminate any security measures” (24.3%), “limiting liquids in carry-on baggage” (17.5%), “extensive pat-down” (11.0%) and “laptop removal” (7.5%).

• Shoe removal has been the top response the past three years in a row.

• Airline passengers who qualify for Global Entry and TSA Pre✓® do not need to remove shoes, computers or 1-quart bag carrying liquids at 160 airports throughout the United States.