CLEAR, the program which allows enrolled passengers the ability to bypass the TSA document check lanes, by using a kiosk instead, has just announced that DFW airport will be the next airport to feature a CLEAR lane. Information regarding the placement of CLEAR at DFW has not yet been published, although an email to all members has said that they're hoping to be online by the Spring, which should mean that we'll know more in the coming weeks. Additionally, the talks with the SFO airport authority have been completed, and operations will resume at SFO hopefully by the beginning of the summer, if not sooner.
Many will remember the original CLEAR program that was in operation until June of 2009. With lanes operating at over fifteen airports, members were in shock when they approached a CLEAR kiosk on June 22 to discover that the company had shut down, due to their inability to secure funding necessary for continued operation.
image courtesy; examiner.com
Shortly after their shut-down, a couple lawsuits were filed on behalf of the members for many reasons, one of the biggest was the fact that CLEAR had not issued any refunds for time remaining in each members subscription. Additionally, many people were concerned with the fact that their social security numbers, credit card numbers, and bio-metric data remained on file, despite the company shut down. Considering their track record with keeping data secure (laptop with 30K names/CCs/SS #s stolen @ SFO), I, too, would have been concerned if my data had been on file with the company.
Less than a year later, the assets of CLEAR were bought up and lanes opened up in Denver & Orlando, and plans were drawn up to re-open in San Francisco. Although their current footprint is fairly small, I would not be surprised if we saw additional lanes opening up by the end of the year.
From 2010-2012, I was a member of CLEAR, although my membership fee had been comped by the company, due to an error on their part. Through my 1K status with United Airlines, I was eligible to use the priority security line in Denver, which often had waits of 10 minutes of more. Using CLEAR, I was able to skip the line of people waiting to have their documents checked, which would allow me to spend more time relaxing in the Red Carpet Club, as opposed to standing in line.
While CLEAR has bold aspirations of installing lanes in many of the larger airports across the United States, the expansion of TSA's Preâ program may slow them down. With CLEAR, you'll always be able to skip the regular queue to have your documents checked, although you are still be subjected to the same screening as the passengers that weren't using CLEAR. Preâ is the opposite, as it gives you the chance to keep your shoes and light jacket on, laptop and liquids in the bag, and offers the traditional metal detector, as opposed to a body scanner that may leave you with a few doses of Ionizing Radiation. You're not always guaranteed the opportunity to use Preâ, but the benefits, in my opinion, outweigh the yearly membership fee for CLEAR. I've used Preâ at LAX, and thought that my experience there was one of the best I'd had since 9/11.
As a reminder, members of Global Entry/NEXUS/Sentri are eligible to use the Preâ program, provided they add their Pass ID # to their membership profile or airline reservation. Additionally, elite members of American Airlines & Delta Airlines have the ability to opt-in to the Preâ program for free. Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership, although you can receive it for free by signing up for NEXUS, which only costs $50 for a five-year membership.