The CLEAR Kiosk Check-in Program Is Speeding up the Security Check-in for Travelers, with Other Venues Adopting the Technology.
Most of us have at some point in our lives endured the humiliation of standing in a Transportation Security Administration line at the airport, one hand holding our shoes and the other keeping our pants from falling down, while an agent checks our ID, searches our luggage and eyes us up and down like we’re No. 1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Heaven help us if for some unknown reason we get pulled from the line for “additional screening.”
Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in today. But while security precautions are going to be a fact of travel for the foreseeable future, the combination of interactive kiosks and a new expedited security program developed by New York-based CLEAR might offer the ability to make the process quicker and easier for frequent travelers.
How It Works
The typical airport screening is a two-step process: identity verification and security screening. When a traveler reaches the front of the line at the TSA checkpoint an agent will inspect their ID and make a note on their boarding pass. They’ll then be directed to another line, where they’ll walk through a metal detector and their carryon baggage will be inspected.
With CLEAR, travelers will instead go through a dedicated lane for the first step, where their identification will be verified at a biometric-enabled kiosk via fingerprint or iris scan. A CLEAR representative will then escort them to the security screening. If the traveler is also enrolled in TSA PreCheck, they’ll be escorted to the PreCheck line.
The CLEAR program currently costs $179 per year. Up to three adult family members can be added for $50 each per year, while children under 18 can use the program for free when traveling with a CLEAR member. Travelers may be able to get a reduced rate through their credit card; the American Express Green Card, for example, offers a $100 statement credit when paying for the program with their card. Several Delta-branded cards offer perks that can cover all or part of the membership cost.
To sign up, travelers first register their personal information online. They can then visit a CLEAR kiosk to complete their enrollment by registering their biometric and ID information. The company says the process doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.
CLEAR is currently available at more than 60 airports, stadiums and other venues around the United States. In addition, the program can be used for identity verification and payments when purchasing alcohol at CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field in Seattle. CLEAR has been awarded SAFETY Act Certification by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Although travelers may recall a CLEAR program from a decade ago, that company went bankrupt in 2009. The current owner Alclear LLC purchased the assets of that company in 2010, and no one from the old CLEAR is association with its current iteration. Airline operators United and Delta both hold stakes in Alclear.
Is It Worth It?
The value of CLEAR depends on a number of factors, including how much one travels, what airports they use and the perceived value of one’s time.
A recent study by the travel information website UpgradedPoints.com found that wait times at Newark Liberty International could run as long as 60 minutes, while waits at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston averaged 51 minutes during busy periods. Waits at Boston Logan International can stretch to 45 minutes, while at Minneapolis-St. Paul International they can run as long as 43 minutes.
Someone who flies for business twice a month, then, could potentially spend an entire day over the course of the year waiting at a TSA checkpoint. On the other hand, although there are no specific figures available a number of reports say wait times were reduced to just a few minutes.
Another question that may arise is whether or not CLEAR is worth it if the traveler is already enrolled in TSA PreCheck. Again, the smug answer is “it all depends,” but it’s important to note that each program deals with a different issue. While CLEAR handles the identity verification process TSA PreCheck is focused on security screening. Enrolling in both, then, can speed up the process even more.
In addition to speeding up the screening process at the airport, CLEAR members can bypass the line at sports stadiums for fast-track entry, with some venues using biometric information in place of a ticket. A sports-venue-only membership is free.
The company is currently exploring plans to expand its concession sales application beyond Seattle, and is exploring its options on a state-by-state basis.
For More Information:
- Hertz Launches Facial Recognition Biometric Kiosk for Faster Rental Car Check-Out
- Speedier check-in comes to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
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