Majority of Travelers Continue with Holiday Flight Plans, According to New Accenture Research

Security concerns, long airport lines leading cause of air travelers changing holiday plans

Atlanta, November 7, 2001 – Six of 10 airline travelers who have canceled their upcoming holiday flights are doing so because of security concerns, according to an Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey released today. While canceled holiday air travel was predominately due to security concerns, the likelihood of long lines at airports is also motivating 28 percent of travelers to change their plans.

The new study of 2,764 travelers reveals that eight of 10 U.S. travelers are still planning to take a flight to reach their holiday destinations, but only 61 percent of airline travelers believe that current security measures - military and law enforcement presence, multiple checkpoints and limits to carry-on luggage - are effective.

According to Ron Stewart, global managing partner, Accenture Transportation & Travel Services industry group, the survey reveals that the airline industry faces both the challenge and opportunity of winning back consumers’ confidence through increased security measures.

“Simply reducing fares or banning common, everyday items will not fill the skies with travelers,” commented Stewart. “Executives must move quickly to restore customer confidence and convenience through security, and they must use technology to help do it.”

Securing Confidence
All respondents, whether they defined themselves as frequent business or recreational travelers, were in favor of using various forms of technology to extend the security measures already in place. The Accenture research revealed the following:

  • More than 60 percent of respondents believe airports need to increase video surveillance
  • Forty one percent believe biometric devices should be employed
  • Only 32 percent are in favor of instituting a national identification system
  • The slowing economy was also cited as a reason by 26 percent of respondents who have canceled plans
  • Nearly 80 percent believe airlines and law enforcement officials should increase their cooperation via shared databases

“Technology could help improve security long before passengers reach the airport,” said Stewart. “Specifically, an early warning system that shares information to the federal government’s watch list could serve as an added net of security, which is activated when passengers book their travel.”

The New Frontier – An Early Warning System
This system could be implemented immediately using current data and technology. As a first line of defense, the system would act as a digital screening process, helping detect suspicious behavior patterns, and helping to provide a realistic way for airlines and the travel industry to manage risk.

By monitoring behavior patterns, this system would help eliminate longer wait times at security checkpoints and unnecessary, time-consuming searches. In addition, it would help the industry develop a more focused security effort that concentrates primarily on the highest risk cases.

An early warning system would effectively accumulate, analyze and report critical data to:

  • “Fast track” passengers who appear to represent minimal risk as suspects– A supercomputer database, which would accept information provided by the passenger, via the airlines or reservation agency, and digitally match it to federal authorities’ watch lists and sophisticated risk profiles, would alert a reservation system or agent to those who appear to be security risks. All other passengers not exhibiting suspicious behavior or on a watch list could be approved immediately for travel.
  • Identify passengers who might pose a threat – Using profiles contained in the database plus biometric devices such as facial profile identification or fingerprint technology, the early warning system could help provide positive identification for all travelers. If necessary, it would forward the information to federal officials immediately.
  • Identify unusual and potentially suspicious behaviors across multiple travel modes and geographies – Through a “Super PNR” (Passenger Name Record – already assigned today to every ticket issued), the system could consolidate information from all carriers, hotels, rental car companies and rail and bus companies to examine suspicious itineraries, methods of payment or other behavior that was out of the ordinary.

The holiday travel survey, fielded in the United States in mid-October, was conducted among 2,764 adults over the age of 25 who flew on a commercial airline at least one time in the previous 12 months. Approximately 40 percent of the respondents flew a commercial flight more than five times in the previous 12 months. The error ratio is plus/minus two percent, and the survey was conducted entirely online.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management and technology consulting organization. Through its network of businesses approach — in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, ventures and other capabilities — Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 46 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is