Security Hassles at Airports Are Air Travelers' Biggest Complaints

by Joseph Carroll

Travelers also dislike waiting around, uncomfortable seats, crowded flights

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to a recent Gallup Poll, the vast majority of air travelers have some complaint or another about modern air travel, spanning a wide range of issues. The single most common gripe is about what Americans call the hassles or inconveniences of security measures at airports. Travelers also say they dislike the requirements to arrive early for flights, uncomfortable seats, and crowded planes. Overall, Americans report that they have taken an average of two air trips in the past year, but more than half have not flown at all. Younger adults travel more frequently than older Americans, men more often than women, and high income earners more often than low income earners.

Air Travelers' Dislikes

The Dec. 11-14, 2006, poll asked Americans who have traveled by plane at least once in the past year to express, in their own words, what they "dislike about taking a trip by plane." Air travelers complain most about the hassles and inconveniences of security measures, with 23% saying they dislike this aspect of flying. Following next is the early arrival requirement or the amount of time spent waiting around (13%), cramped or uncomfortable seats (10%), overcrowded airplanes (10%), and problems with delays or cancellations (8%). Nineteen percent of air travelers say they have no dislikes about flying.                                                        

Air Travelers' Dislikes About Air Travel
Dec. 11-14, 2006

%

Hassles/Inconveniences of security measures

23

Early arrival requirement/too much waiting around

13

Seats are cramped, uncomfortable

10

Planes are overcrowded, lack of space

10

Problems with delays, cancellations

8

Fearful of flying/possible dangers involved (crash, terrorism)

4

Cost of flying

3

Dislike flying in general

3

Poor service

2

Problems with connecting flights

1

Food -- quality poor or not offered at all

1

Lost luggage

1

Air quality

1

 

Other

10

Nothing

19

No opinion

1

 

NOTE: Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

Frequent air travelers, or those who have flown three or more times in the past year, show very little variation with all air travelers in their dislikes about air travel. Twenty-five percent of frequent fliers mention security inconveniences, while 16% mention early arrival requirements or timeliness issues, 13% say uncomfortable seats, and 11% say overcrowded planes.

When examining the results to this question, air travelers' responses can essentially be divided in two separate categories: inconveniences brought about by increased security measures post-9/11, and more general air travel issues that have long been a source of frustration. U.S. air travelers are equally likely to complain about both issues, with 40% mentioning post-9/11 inconveniences and 37% mentioning the more traditional kinds of complaints.

Air Travelers' Dislikes About Air Travel
Dec. 11-14, 2006

NET: Problems since 9/11

40%

Hassles/Inconveniences of security measures

Early arrival requirement/too much waiting around

Fearful of flying/possible dangers involved (crash, terrorism)

NET: More traditional types of complaints

37%

Seats are cramped, uncomfortable

Planes are overcrowded, lack of space

Problems with delays, cancellations

Cost of flying

Dislike flying in general

Poor service

Problems with connecting flights

Food -- quality poor or not offered at all

Lost luggage

Air quality

Air Travel

Overall, Americans report that they have taken an average of 2.2 trips on a commercial airliner in the past 12 months. Only about half of Americans have flown at all in the last year, including 29% who have flown once or twice, 8% who have flown three or four times, and 11% who have flown five times or more. The average number of air trips made by those who have flown in the past year is 4.6.

Gallup has periodically asked this question since 1999, and over this time the average number of flights Americans report taking each year has shown only modest variation, ranging between 1.5 and 2.2 trips per year.

Young Americans report that they take more air trips, on average, than older Americans. Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 took an average of 3.8 air trips in the past year, compared with an average of less than two air trips for older Americans (1.9 trips for 35- to 54-year-olds and 1.5 trips for adults aged 55 and older).

Men also travel by plane more often than women, with an average of 2.9 air trips for men and an average of 1.6 air trips for women.

Americans residing in higher income households also travel more by air than those who live in lower income households. Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more per year report an average of 4.0 air trip per year, higher than the average of 2.2 air trips for those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year and the average of less than one (0.3) for those earning less than $30,000 per year.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2006. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 519 adults who have traveled in an airplane in the past year, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

25. How many air trips, if any, have you taken on a commercial airliner in the past 12 months -- counting each round trip as one trip?           


None


1-2


3-4

5 or
more

No
opinion

Mean (w/ 0)

Mean (w/o 0)

%

%

%

%

%

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

52

29

8

11

--

2.2

4.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Aug 18-20

49

28

15

9

--

1.9

3.6

2005 Dec 5-8

60

25

9

6

--

1.5

3.7

2005 Apr 1-2

49

28

14

9

*

1.9

3.8

2004 Dec 5-8

59

23

9

9

--

1.6

4.0

2003 Dec 11-14

60

24

9

7

*

1.5

3.7

2002 Sep 2-4

61

24

9

6

--

1.8

4.7

2002 Feb 8-10

48

32

11

9

--

1.9

3.7

2001 Nov 26-27

50

31

10

9

--

2.0

4.0

2000 Aug 24-27

55

26

10

9

*

1.8

4.1

2000 Feb 4-6

55

25

9

11

*

2.1

4.6

1999 Nov 18-21

54

26

13

7

*

1.7

3.7

* Less than 0.5%

26. (Asked of adults who traveled on an airplane in the past year) What, if anything, do you dislike about taking a trip by plane? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON 519 ADULTS WHO HAVE TRAVELED ON AN AIRPLANE IN THE PAST YEAR

2006 Dec 11-14

%

Hassles/Inconveniences of security measures

23

Early arrival requirement/too much waiting around

13

Seats are cramped, uncomfortable

10

Planes are overcrowded, lack of space

10

Problems with delays, cancellations

8

Fearful of flying/possible dangers involved (crash, terrorism)

4

Cost of flying

3

Dislike flying in general

3

Poor service

2

Problems with connecting flights

1

Food – quality poor or not offered at all

1

Lost luggage

1

Air quality

1

 

Other

10

Nothing

19

No opinion

1

 

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/26134/Security-Hassles-Airports-Air-Travelers-Biggest-Complaints.aspx
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