Crusty Logic Christianity & Liberty

TSA Survey Results

As I have time this week and next I’ll post some analysis on the TSA survey. I am also learning new blog software and experiencing some growing pains, particularly with images, so please bare with me 🙂

Today’s post includes some overall results as well as some comparisons of business vs leisure travelers.  Later we’ll look at differences by gender and maybe other areas and then delve in to more details, including peoples specific TSA experiences, if anything is particularly interesting.

Surprisingly only one person criticized the survey itself.  Typically a well designed survey like this one will involve at least a couple of hundred hours of design and validation (and often multiples of that), tens of hours of coding (or much more), and perhaps thousands of hours of analysis.  On this survey; design, validation, and coding were about three hours total and analysis will likely be less than 20.

Perhaps the biggest error was one of bias that likely permeated many questions.  In particular using the word ‘terrified’ to describe people’s feelings about being seen nude or groped by a TSA agent.  Speaking of, using the word ‘grope’ is potentially biasing.  I should have maybe said ‘felt up’.  In the biz vs leisure question I should have worded it ‘10% or less’.

How did biz vs leisure look overall?

Note: For further comparison here we’ll say that a business traveler is someone who responds that 60% or more of their travel is for business and a leisure traveler is someone who says that 40% or less of their travel is for business.  We’ll look at the 50% middle folks separately.

Interestingly, there was a minor bit of gender split with females falling towards the leisure category and males the business category.  While leisure travelers were largely from Tripadvisor and business from Flyertalk (and thirtythousandfeet and other), there didn’t appear to be a correlation between female leisure from tripadvisor and male business from flyertalk.

In light of the new TSA screening procedures, what changes, if any, do you expect to make with regard to future air travel?

I think we’re seeing far more of an emotional response of what people would like to do than what they will do.  Not surprisingly there is a very strong correlation between this response and biz/leisure.  47.1% of those whose travel is 10% or less business[1] say they will curtail future travel until things change while only 9.2% of those who travel solely for business plan to do so (though both groups lean towards reduction).  It will be interesting to see if there is a noticeable decrease in airline travel, particularly from airports with backscatter machines.

On the following scale, rate your feelings or level of concern regarding the following (note that the TSA has stated that viewing of full-body scanner images will not be gender specific and due to employee demographics is most likely to be a male):

Clearly people are least concerned about themselves, next about their spouse, and very concerned about their daughters. Leisure travelers were a bit more likely than business travelers to fall towards the ‘terrified’ end BTW. Male/Female differences on this are quite interesting.  We’ll look at those later this week.

Do you believe that the full-body scanners and enhanced pat-downs will increase security over the methods in place prior to November 2010?

This was fairly evenly split with 48% saying no increase in security and 47% believing that the new machines would actually decrease security (eg, metal detectors are better).  Only 5% believe there will be a slight increase, and nobody thought there would be a significant increase.  That there is huge selection bias in this question as nearly all respondents came from travel related websites and are likely far better informed than the general public.  And, we know that the general public generally believes that the new machines will increase security and that many believe that they will significantly increase security.

The more someone travels for business, the more they are likely to believe that they will decrease security.

If you have experienced the new TSA procedures multiple times, do you believe, from an emotional standpoint, that it is getting easier, staying the same, or getting more difficult for you?

56% of respondents answered this question.  Not surprisingly they are all fairly frequent travelers averaging 18 round trips per year and 31 encounters with TSA per year.  On average they’d ‘opted out’ 1.52 times (given the timing of this survey coming just a few weeks after people really began to opt out, this is fairly high).

Nobody thought it gets easier.  23% responded that it’s stayed the same, 77% that it gets more difficult.  Leisure travelers were far more likely to indicate that it stayed the same.  There appeared little correlation between this and how people rated their feelings.  Three people stated in their comments that they thought it would get easier, didn’t, and that they are now (only after several new TSA experiences) re-evaluating future travel.

[1] Remember that the question was actually worded 10%, not 10% or less.

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