Poll: Air travelers “more confused than ever” about TSA rules

With the busy Thanksgiving travel season just a few days away, a majority of air travelers say the Transportation Security Administration’s new security rules are unclear, according to a poll conducted in cooperation with the Consumer Travel Alliance.

A weekend survey of 547 air travelers found 56 percent of respondents were “more confused than ever” about the TSA rules, which include new name-matching requirements, a ban on printer cartridges and enhanced pat-down procedures for passengers who refuse full-body scans.

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Just over 40 percent of the respondents said they felt “about the same” as before, when it comes to the TSA requirements. Only 3 percent said the rules were clear, and that they were less confused than before.

The results come at time when the issue of full-body scans has snowballed into a national issue. The TSA is aggressively pushing back against travelers who opt out of the scans and pat-downs, escorting them from the airport and, in extreme cases, threatening them with fines for allegedly refusing to cooperate.

Air travelers who were polled say the rules, and their uneven enforcement, defy reason.

“The rules keep changing,” says Alfred Kee, an IT manager based in Toronto. “I feel no safer flying than before the TSA. Instead of targeting a likely subset of potential terrorists, they have turned security into a needle-in-a-haystack activity.”

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Ani Nazerian, a New York-based management consultant, says the massively confusing rules have made him change his travel plans.

“We travel every year the week after Christmas and this year decided against it, specifically because of the new and ridiculous security measures,” he says. “We have a trip that was previously planned during spring break in March, but will rethink that if things get worse. It’s sad and disappointing that this is what it’s come down to.”

Margie Milich, a corporate travel agent from Vernon Hills, Ill., agrees: The rules — when she does understand them — are enough to make her reconsider air travel.

“I hear what my clients go through and there is no way I want to put up with that myself,” she says. “I need to make a couple more trips this next year and I’m dreading it. Would prefer to drive, but don’t have the time, so I guess I’ll have to put up with it. Looking forward to seeing friends and family, but not the process to get there. Beam me up, Scotty!”