The airline industry has taken a beating the last ten years. Whether it’s the cost of travel for a family, the lackluster accommodations on the planes, or subpar ability for carriers to remain on schedule, taking a trip by plane no longer provides the majestic feeling of travel for some. Compounding these feelings recently have been the TSA’s new heightened security measures.
After some scares in airports surrounding packages and travelers, the TSA recently turned to full scale pat-downs and full body scanning to screen passengers getting on flights. Almost immediately, backlash arose from flyers. The full body scanners were already a source of concern in terms of privacy, but now the full pat-downs amplified this concern. Lines at security checkpoints are backing up and are taking more than our time.
In a somber piece in the New York Times, Nate Silver looked at some of the negative impacts that could occur when people choose alternatives to air travel because of heavy handed TSA tactics. The loss of recreational travelers can hurt areas which depend on that revenue. Business deals can be lost when companies choose to teleconference as opposed to meeting face- to-face. The equivalent of roughly four Boeing 737s crashing each year equal the number of deaths of people who travel by ground instead of by air!
All of these stats are of course worse case scenarios, and the article does point out that the new security measure can have the opposite effect. But in 2002-03, while travelers claimed new security measures gave them the feeling that travelling is safe once more and would fly more frequently, actual numbers suggested otherwise. Hopefully, history doesn’t repeat itself and these polarizing feelings on the subject even out and the airline industry can get back to putting the last decade behind them.