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Nothing eases the pain of long lines and extensive security measures at the airport like taking the fast lane.
A new study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that business travelers who are enrolled in the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited screening program, TSA PreCheck, are much more satisfied with air travel than those who have not signed up.
According to the latest findings of the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index, 66 percent of those who had PreCheck were satisfied with the airport security process as well as traveling on an airplane.
Only 47 percent of travelers who didn’t have PreCheck were satisfied with the experience of getting through airport security, while 54 percent of business travelers without PreCheck were satisfied with flying.
The results of the survey, conducted in partnership with American Express, also showed that older travelers are more likely to be signed up for the program. Just over half of those 55 and older were enrolled, while 37 percent of those between 35 and 54 and 32 percent of travelers 18-34 had joined. In all, 40 percent of business travelers were part of PreCheck.
Michael McCormick, executive director and chief operating officer of GBTA, said the association has supported PreCheck since it was introduced in 2011. He said the group wanted to try to measure how much value the program has created for business travelers.
“There’s literally almost a 20 point spread in terms of somebody who has PreCheck and somebody who doesn’t,” he said. “Basically the business traveler feels much more efficient when they use it as opposed to when they don’t. It sounds very logical, but I think the fact that there’s literally that 20-point spread in satisfaction means it’s a really powerful tool.”
The survey was conducted in late September, shortly after the Transportation Security Administration started to scale back the number of non-enrolled passengers who were ushered into the quick lanes. Often, those travelers clogged up the lanes because they didn’t realize they could keep their shoes on and laptops stored.
The agency has said recently it is moving toward offering the expedited screening only to “trusted and pre-vetted travelers enrolled” in PreCheck. More than 2 million people are enrolled in that program. That doesn’t include those who qualify through partner programs such as Global Entry.
The quarterly GBTA survey asks about topics including expense tracking, travel management policy attitudes, safety, technology, social media and the economy. Each version also queries respondents about topical issues — in this case, TSA PreCheck and the practice of extending business trips to add leisure time.
According to the survey, 67 percent of business travelers said it was important to them to have the option of adding leisure to business on a trip. And 36 percent of those who responded to the survey had actually taken a “bleisure” trip in the past three months.
Younger business travelers were most likely to add a leisure component to their trips:
43 percent of millennials had stretched out business travel for that purpose, compared to 34 percent of those aged 35-54 and 35 percent of baby boomers.
McCormick said the numbers indicate that the quest for work-life balance extends to travel, and that the ease of working remotely for many people means they feel comfortable spending more time out of the office to enjoy leisure pursuits.
“A third of the people saying that they did so in the last three months is a very high number,” he said. “That would indicate that for the travel industry, that presents opportunities to cross-sell.”