Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Travelers Looking to Avoid Flying; Almost Two-Thirds Oppose New TSA Measures, Zogby Poll Finds

Reacting against the current program of body-imaging scans and aggressive body pat-downs at airports, 48 percent of Americans, and 42 percent of frequent fliers, say they will choose an alternative to air travel whenever possible, according to a new poll by Zogby International.

Overall, 61 percent of 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22 oppose the use of full body scans and the current form of TSA pat downs. Republicans (69 percent) and Independents (65 percent) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50 percent).

Of those polled, 52 percent believe the new, so-called enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity; almost half (48 percent) say they are a violation of privacy rights; 33 percent say they should not have to go through enhanced security methods to get on an airplane, and 32 percent believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs to be sexual harassment. This is in line with frequent fliers (fly more than once every 3 months), as 53 percent say the enhanced measures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent believe it's a violation of their privacy rights, 41 percent say they should not have to go through it to get on an airplane, and 35 percent believe it is sexual harassment.

While roughly the same amount believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs are necessary to keep the country safe and prevent terrorist activities on airplanes (34 percent of frequent fliers vs. 29 percent overall), frequent fliers are more likely to feel that the enhanced methods are not needed because metal detectors and bag screenings are working fine (33 percent to 26 percent). Just 16 percent of frequent fliers say no one has an absolute right to fly and if people don't like the security measures, then just don't fly compared to 20 percent of everyone polled.

The Zogby poll also found that when given a choice, likely voters will choose full body scan over the TSA pat downs (48 percent to 7 percent), but 42 percent would rather have neither. Frequent fliers feel about the same.

Said pollster John Zogby: "It's clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted. The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent fliers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements. It seems the airlines and TSA need to come together to find a solution before the American flying public abandons both."

Meanwhile, the busiest travel peak of the year starts tomorrow -- and as if we don't already have enough hassle in air travel, the weather is turning very bad in big sections of the country.


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