Paging TSA.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated: June 21, 2019
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One of the only things that could deter me from traveling is the entire airport experience: the frustrating delays, congestion, and headache-inducing inefficiency at every turn. Airports know how important a fast, safe experience is to travelers, which is why they’re spending a lot of money to automate everything from check-in to boarding in order to streamline it all. And sure, automation sounds like a cool and efficient solution—but it doesn’t always help that much. In a survey conducted by OAG, a UK-based travel data and insights company, a whopping 50 percent of travelers said they spend at least 45 minutes in airport lines—21 percent said they waited in lines for at least an hour.

Respondents also admitted they’d still prefer human interaction over automation for most services, including baggage check, security, concierge, boarding, airport stores, and in-flight services. (Ticketing and check-in were the only two features travelers would rather be automated.)

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When it comes to one of the biggest airport grievances—nauseatingly long security lines—almost 60 percent of survey takers said they’d allow airports, airlines, and other travel providers the ability to track their location if it meant the data were used to deploy staff to crowded areas with snaking lines. This sounds kind of crazy, but 59 percent of travelers said security is the longest line to get through, followed by boarding lines (20 percent) and check-in and baggage lines (16 percent). And wouldn't you be ready to do just about anything after you'd been waiting in a queue for 45 minutes to an hour?

But survey participants also believe the solution doesn't need to be as complicated as being followed with a (creepy) wearable tracker. In fact, it’s as simple as this: 40 percent of respondents said the best way to expedite airport security lines would be to open more loading zones for passengers to prep before being scanned. Other helpful improvements would be to make security wait times available (31 percent) and to use biometrics-based identification (think: facial or fingerprint recognition).

So while self-service stations and automated processes might be smart investments in the long term, there’s a pretty simple solution (at least from the customers’ point of view) right at airports' fingertips: Please open more lanes to keep the security line moving.

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