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Survey says: Flying is no fun

Courtesy HNTB

Respondents to the HNTB survey about flying share their opinions about the airport screening process. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer.

A new survey confirms what most travelers already know: modern air travel can be stressful, frustrating and exhausting.

"Air travel has lost its spark,” said Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture for HNTB, the architecture, engineering and construction company that commissioned the survey. “Going to the airport just isn’t as glamorous as it used to be. Now it’s just a chore.”

Of the survey’s 1,000 U.S. respondents, 44 percent called air travel stressful, 41 percent said it was frustrating and 32 percent declared it downright exhausting. Very few people (16 percent) found air travel easy, luxurious (5 percent) or relaxing (7 percent).

Math whizzes will note that these totals add up to more than 100 percent but survey respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer to the question: “Air travel is...”

Not surprisingly, the survey found that air travelers are displeased with the modern-day airport security-screening process. “The biggest frustration is with waiting in those long lines,” said Rossbach.

Only 22 percent said airport security-screening procedures were effective and only 11 percent said it was efficient. A mere 4 percent found it pleasant while 42 percent found the security checkpoint “a hassle.”

But some travelers are optimistic that new technology and better airport amenities can help patch things up.

According to the survey, almost half of Americans think that over that last 10 years there’s been improvement in terminal amenities such as shops, food options and entertainment. And more than half count the now ubiquitous self-check-in kiosks among the improvements. 

Going forward, more than a quarter of the survey respondents would like to see paper baggage tags replaced by electronic GPS tags. And 53 percent said they’d feel safer in an airplane that had "NextGen" GPS technology installed, instead of the current radar-based system.

More than 10 percent of respondents would also like to see improvements at airport drop-off and pick-up curbs and at the departure gate lounges as well as a few more designated areas for quiet or conversation.

“We’re going to take this information and use to it design better airports with facilities that are easier to manage and much more enjoyable to be in,” said Rossbach.

100 percent of travelers would most likely say yes to that.

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Find more by Harriet Baskas on Stuck at The Airport.com and follow her on Twitter.