The TSA, the governmental agency tasked with keeping American borders safe from terrorist threats, received dismal marks among the 1,852 readers surveyed.
An overwehlming majority – 90.8% – responded that the TSA was doing a poor or fair job in airport security screening. A scant 1.2% gave the agency “excellent” marks.
This cohort of frequent travelers were also not at all confident in the TSA’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks on aircraft: 45.8% said they were “not effective,” with only Â 23.9% rating them somewhat effective to extremely effective.
And out of that 23.9%, only a fraction of a percent (0.6%) had faith in the TSA as being “extremely effective” at stopping the terrorists.
Most telling is the level of dissatisfaction with many respondents’ most recent TSA experience – 56.4% were not at all satisfied, with only 6.2% being either very satisfied or extremely satisfied.
It seems that the granular experience that each traveler has on the ground before take-off is impacting the overall trust and satisfaction with the agency.
The results of the Frequent Business Traveler survey diverge completely with a July 2012Â Gallup pollÂ that found 54% of respondents giving “good” or “excellent” marks to the TSA.
The July Gallup poll also found that 41% rated the effectiveness of the TSA “excellent” or “good.” However, the travelers in the Gallup poll were not really that frequent: only 12% had flown more than 3 times in the past year, with an overall average of 2.1 trips in the last year.
On the other hand, the Frequent Business Traveler cohort is one of the most active – the respondents took, on average,Â 6.2 personal trips and 10.1 trips for business in the past year. This group isÂ thus much more familiar with TSA checkpoints and procedures across many different cities, and can speak about inconsistencies, safety lapses and a general feeling of effectiveness in ways that more casual travelers cannot.
David M. Goldes, publisher of Frequent Business Traveler:
â€śIf I want to know whatâ€™s broken in airport security, Iâ€™d prefer to ask people who fly a lot. Our readers and survey respondents took an average of 32 flights per person in the past year and 96 percent of them are members of a frequent flyer program, making them a very qualified group to render judgment.â€ť
Frequent travelers also have higher expectations, given that they are more weary of theÂ rigamarole and are less likely to have patience for inefficiencies. Road warriors are a valuable segment, oneÂ much more likely to take to social media to complain and to choose airlines for perks like streamlined security checkpoints.
The TSA did not respond directly to a request for comment, but they did point to the Gallup poll as an indication that they aren’t doing such a bad job.
Nonetheless, take note airlines: the TSA is not only failing to instill confidence in the safety of airline travel in the most frequent travelers, but is also leaving a terrible taste on travelers’ tongues before they even settle into their seats.
Customer service is much more difficult with a customer that starts off irate, so considering ways to reward the most frequent – and vocal – of travelers will not only curry favor but also make the experience more pleasant and manageable for all. Providing technology-based solutions – such as including security wait times at various security checkpoints within airline-branded apps – could help alleviate some of the uncertainty-related headaches.
Let’s get creative! Gate-side chair massages, anyone?