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Flyers: TSA Is a Drag on the Travel Experience

Notwithstanding United's multimillion ad campaign to convince travelers otherwise, the skies are anything but friendly. How else account for the fact that the airlines routinely rank among the worst-rated industries when it comes to customer satisfaction?

The ground portion of the travel experience isn't likely to win any travelers' hearts or minds, either. In particular, the security check has become a travel bottleneck dreaded as an intrusive, demeaning time-killer.

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Although the blowback from negative security experiences inevitably compounds flyers' negative perception of the airlines, that negativity is more properly directed toward the TSA, which operates the checkpoints.

In a new poll conducted by Frequent Business Traveler and FlyerTalk, 84 percent of the 2,415 respondents rated the performance of the TSA as either fair or poor. Only 15 percent gave the TSA a rating of "good." And just 1 percent judged the TSA's performance excellent.

Travelers were also negative in their perceptions of the TSA's efficacy in actually preventing terrorist events, the unit's basic reason-for-being. A full 66 percent believed the TSA's procedures were either not effective, or not too effective. Twenty-seven percent judged them somewhat effective; and only 8 percent saw them as being either very or extremely effective.

The bottom line, perception-wise, is that travelers are being subjected to invasive, time-consuming checks with little protection to show for it.

There was some satisfaction to be found among the generally grumpy survey respondents. Among those who have used TSA's PreCheck, 32 percent were extremely satisfied with the service, 29 percent were very satisfied, and 18 percent were satisfied. Only 7 percent were not satisfied. The implied message: If you're going to waste my time on ineffective screening, at least do it quickly.

Reader Reality Check

How would you rate your experience with the TSA?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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