The CEO Poll: Expect flight hassles to get worse

Executives predict that security measures will make air travel less convenient.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

Between the Christmas Day bombing attempt, the carry-on luggage ban and the announcement of the introduction of full-body scanners, air travel has become increasingly stressful. According to Canadian CEOs, the situation is only going to get worse.

A recent Compas Inc. poll of Canadian executives found that 81% of respondents say cross-border travel between Canada and the U.S. will be less convenient in 2010, compared with 2009. However, executives don’t see domestic flights being as problematic, with only 51% saying flights within Canada will be less convenient this year.

Despite these findings, executives said increased airport security won’t be the biggest deterrent to flying in 2010. The expense of air travel ranked as a more significant concern, getting a mean score of 4.9 on a seven-point scale. The inconvenience caused by security procedures came in a close second, earning a mean score of 4.7, with one executive saying he would ‘make more efforts to avoid the U.S.’ Many also cited teleconferencing as a viable alternative to flying, giving it a mean score of 4.6. Still, these three factors may not reduce travel much overall, with 65% of the respondents predicting that people in their organization, and other organizations they are familiar with, would fly about the same amount as last year.

When asked about specific security measures, executives showed strong support for the use of profiling to single out travellers who have recently visited countries with known terrorist activity. ‘Not all passengers pose the same security risk,’ said one executive. ‘Targeting everyone is largely a misguided, politically correct effort that increases the risk because it uses up resources. ‘

The respondents were also in favour of the expansion of programs like Nexus, which allows faster processing of pre-screened travellers to the U.S. and Canada by using photo-ID with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and iris scanning. ‘Nexus allows frequent flyers a faster, more efficient alternative,’ says one CEO. ‘It needs to be adopted for domestic travel as well.’