A statement from the U.S. Travel Association said air travel would surpass pre-pandemic levels this spring, “underscoring the urgent need for federal government investment in the US air travel system, which is already strained by inefficiencies and passenger dissatisfaction.”
Geoff Freeman, CEO, said periods of high demand like spring break and holiday weekends are “a stress test that reveal the inadequacies of our current air travel system.” Demand may be high now, he said, “but countless frustrating air travel experiences may cause passengers to choose other modes of transportation or simply stay home in the future.”
Industry trade group Airlines for America projects 2.6 million U.S. air passengers per day in March and April — a 1% increase over 2019 levels. However, according to U.S. Travel, years of federal underinvestment have resulted in a stretched-thin system that can no longer meet rising demand, negatively impacting the overall travel experience.
According to a recent poll from Ipsos cited by U.S. Travel, nearly half (45%) of American travelers rate the air travel experience as average or below average. These travelers cited crowds and congestion, flight delays or cancellations, airport security process and cumbersome travel logistics as the main contributors.
The association offered two calls for action:
• First, Congress will have an opportunity in this year’s Federal Aviation Administration bill to address inefficiencies across the system and build a world-class air travel experience by accelerating air traffic modernization, growing the aviation workforce and modernizing airport infrastructure. For example, there are currently 1,200 fewer certified air traffic controllers than there were 10 years ago.
• Second, the federal government should accelerate the use of biometric data to expedite the airport security process and create a more seamless, secure travel experience for air travelers. Approximately half of Americans are comfortable sharing biometric data with TSA — such as fingerprints and facial recognition — to check in for a flight, get through airport security and board a plane.