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Web application gives air travelers chance to rate airport security procedures

A company that develops instant online surveys for retail businesses to collect real-time feedback from customers has developed a similar application that airline passengers can access to answer questions about their experiences with airport security procedures.

Air travelers can access a free Web application created by Survey on the Spot and submit their opinions on airport security checkpoints. Passengers also can download the application to an iPhone from the iTunes application store. The survey is similar to one the company developed for retail stores and restaurants, which asks customers about an establishment's quality of service.

The survey asks passengers to identify the airport and airline they plan to board, and they then are prompted to answer a series of questions about their experiences with the procedures at security checkpoints.

The survey was developed without the endorsement of the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security. Survey on the Spot contacted TSA about the evaluation on Dec. 30, one day prior to the company launching the application and five days after a failed bombing attempt on a Northwest flight. The company offered to share results with TSA, but agency officials have not responded to the company.

"We're trying to be proactive," said Geoffrey Palmer, chief executive officer of Survey on the Spot Systems. "People have made valuable comments that we want to share with TSA."

TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although the survey can be accessed through any mobile Web browser, Survey on the Spot is targeting users of the iPhone, which has an internal GPS device that the Survey on the Spot can use to verify that someone filling out the survey is in the proximity of an airport. Currently, the company can't confirm the location of individuals that submit surveys from other mobile devices.

In the survey, travelers answer a series of questions using a scale from "very dissatisfied" to "very satisfied." Participants also are asked, "Rate the time it took to screen you and your carry-on items;" "Rate the thoroughness of passenger screening you received;" and "Rate your confidence in TSA's ability to keep air travel secure."

Travelers are asked how the screening procedures compare to previous trips, whether body-scan technology should be used, and to provide suggestions or recommendations to TSA.

"We've only had a handful of submissions so far, but the vast majority have no objection or strongly agree with use of body scanners," which have been criticized by privacy advocates for being too intrusive, Palmer said. He also pointed to one respondent who saw someone carrying an open soda through security.

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