Most frequent business fliers would welcome more intrusive personal identification technology if it streamlined airport security and check-ins, according to a poll commissioned by airport security provider, Johnson Controls.
Some 75% of the frequent air travellers polled said they were either "extremely willing" or "very willing" to undergo a fingerprint scan at the airport if it helped streamline and shorten check-in times. Around 65% were just as willing to undergo an iris scan or facial recognition scan, and 61% were willing to use a national identity card carrying a thumbprint record.
The poll was conducted by Decision Analyst, based on 203 adults who had taken four or more airline trips in the past year, and were in executive-level jobs, and who had a household income of US$50,000 or more.
Trusted traveller programme
The poll's release follows support by James Loy (acting head of the US Transportation Security Administration) for the creation of a 'trusted traveller' programme.
The proposed programme would involve voluntary, in-depth background checks for frequent travellers who would then receive a badge embedded with some type of personal identification technology.
Once approved, the traveller would become part of a registered 'trusted traveller' database. The poll indicates widespread support among business travellers for such a programme.
But while the majority of frequent fliers were willing to embrace new personal identification technologies at airports, some did express concerns that the measures would not streamline the check-in process, or that they would not be effective, or that they would be too intrusive.
One traveller commented, "In spite of the September 11 attacks, I do not wish to jeopardise my freedom or privacy. I believe cataloguing everyone in this way would do that."
Tom Allen of Johnson Controls commented, "Privacy and security concerns still exist, but many frequent business travellers are more concerned about the amount of time they are spending at the airport."
The poll found that typical business travellers have doubled the amount of time they arrive in advance of scheduled flights since the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Before then, only 1% arrived two hours early. Since then, 30% arrive at least two hours early, and 39% try to arrive at least 90 minutes early for their flights.
About two-thirds of respondents said they had experienced at least one security-related delay over the past year. "Business travellers must anticipate significant delays, whether or not they actually encounter long lines at the airport, and those hours can really add up," said Allen.
Based on the Travel Industry Association's projections for 2002, air travellers will spend an estimated 50 million to 70 million extra hours in airports this year compared to last year, mainly because they need to arrive earlier for their flights.