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More Than 90 Percent of Travelers Support Background Checks

As well as trusted traveler programs, GPS respondents also see value in biometric identification. 75% of passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. But the survey found that data protection remains a concern for about half of travelers.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the results of its 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), showing that travelers’ top concerns for travel in the post-COVID crisis period are focused on simplification and convenience. GPS results are based on over 10,000 responses from 222 countries.

The GPS results showed that 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travelers (background checks) to expedite security screening. 

The United States alone has several trusted traveler programs and membership has increased exponentially in the last year as passenger numbers return to pre-pandemic levels and application backlogs are addressed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler programs are expected to receive 3.5 million applications for this fiscal year, the most the program has ever received in one year. To date, there are over 10 million members of CBP trusted traveler programs, with Global Entry holding the lion’s share. And last month, IDEMIA, a provider of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck trusted traveler program, announced that it had processed its 15 millionth enrollment. TSA recently reduced the program’s enrollment fee and declared that in September 2022, 93% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes at airport security checkpoints nationwide.

As well as trusted traveler programs, GPS respondents also see value in biometric identification. 75% of passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. But the survey found that data protection remains a concern for about half of travelers.

IATA found that most travelers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing. 83% of travelers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. While this is high, it is slightly down from the 88% recorded in 2021. 37% of travelers said they have been discouraged from traveling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent followed by costs and time. Where visas are required, 66% of travelers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport.

For baggage, 80% of GPS respondents said they would be more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey. And 50% said that they have used or would be interested in using an electronic bag tag.

“Passengers clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security. “They want to arrive at the airport ready-to-fly, get through the airport at both ends of their journey more quickly using biometrics and know where their baggage is at all times. The technology exists to support this ideal experience. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen. And we need to continuously reassure passengers that the data needed to support such an experience will be safely kept.”

Read more at IATA

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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