Hate waiting in long lines at the airport? Me, too.
Aside from delayed flights and lost luggage, waiting in long lines is the most stressful and annoying part about flying. Thankfully, there’s a new company called CLEAR that is helping travelers speed through airport security and get to their destination faster.
As a private company working to streamline traditional ID checks, the CLEAR airport security program uses your fingerprint or an iris scan to check you in and get you where you want to go more quickly than before. Whether you’re traveling on a budget, embarking on your dream vacation, or you want to get into a concert quicker, there are benefits and drawbacks to the program.
So, is CLEAR worth it for you? Let’s find out.
What is CLEAR?
CLEAR is a private airport security program designed to help you save time when flying. While most passengers are required to undergo an ID and boarding pass inspection by a TSA agent, CLEAR members can use a separate line to avoid this initial checkpoint and move through airport security more quickly. Additionally, CLEAR can be used to expedite the security process at several different stadiums throughout the country.
As you probably know, lines at the first airport security checkpoint can be excruciatingly long. At the busiest times, it can take an hour or more to get through.
With CLEAR, the process is shorter and much faster.
- Instead of waiting in the long line with everyone else, you’ll have a separate lane for faster check-in.
- In the CLEAR lane, all you have to do is scan your finger or iris at the kiosk to verify you are who you say you are.
Rather than fumbling with your documents and ID, you can keep them safely tucked in your wallet and advance directly to the physical screening.
If you’re worried about the security of this process, don’t be. It’s approved by the Department of Homeland Security and is compliant with the SAFETY Act, meaning you can have peace of mind knowing that proper security measures are still in place for a safer flying experience.
Is CLEAR Different than TSA PreCheck?
You may find yourself wondering how CLEAR compares to the TSA PreCheck process. That’s a great question because if you have CLEAR, you can’t skip the PreCheck security screening process. But it does get you there faster.
Your CLEAR membership will fast-forward you to the physical screening. And your TSA PreCheck saves you time and stress during that physical screening process. While it’s never guaranteed, in many cases, CLEAR should be able to help you clear airport security lines in as little as ten minutes!
Here’s how it works:
- You jump ahead of the long line by using the CLEAR lane
- Your identification is verified at a CLEAR kiosk
- You move quickly to the physical screening
The physical screening is where some of the best benefits of TSA PreCheck begin. With PreCheck, you can leave your liquids and laptops in your bag, getting you through the line faster. Even better, you don’t have to remove your jacket or shoes.
If you don’t have it yet, you should. Even though there is a cost involved, you can easily get TSA PreCheck free with a credit card. Having both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR can significantly reduce the time you spend waiting in line at the airport and cut down on your stress when traveling, too.
Where is CLEAR Available?
The CLEAR program is expanding throughout airports all across the US. Though it started at a limited number of locations, the trusted traveling program is now at many high-traffic airports in the most popular locations. Not all airports have CLEAR set up at every terminal, but here’s a current list of airports where CLEAR kiosks can be found:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Austin/Bergstrom (AUS)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
- Dallas/Love Field (DAL)
- Denver (DEN)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)
- Houston-Hobby (HOU)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Minneapolis (MSP)
- New York – Kennedy (JFK)
- New York – La Guardia (LGA)
- New York – White Plains (HPN)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Antonio (SAT)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- San Jose (SJC)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Washington, D.C. (DCA)
- Washington, D.C. (IAD)
What Does the CLEAR Airport Security Program Cost?
Thankfully, this time-saving convenience isn’t even that expensive. Your annual membership is only $179, and it allows children under the age of 18 to use all the CLEAR services for free as long as they’re traveling with you.
Once you have a membership, you can add up to three additional family members to your account for $50 per member. This is a huge discount and is definitely worth the added cost to save your sanity the next time you fly.Try CLEAR for FREE – Not sure if CLEAR is right for you? Now, you and your family can try CLEAR free for 2 months. Use the link above to get started.
What Else Does CLEAR Do?
This may be the most useful benefit of having CLEAR: Unlike TSA PreCheck, having a CLEAR membership gives you benefits that reach outside of merely saving you time when traveling. Delta has teamed up with CLEAR to use their system for one-touch access to their more than 50 domestic Sky Clubs, and kiosks are also set up in many major stadiums to help fans get in the door faster and easier.
If you’re a Yankees fan or love to watch the San Francisco Giants play, you’re in luck because there are scanning stations at both of those locations, too.
How to Apply for CLEAR
Getting started is easy. You can do it in person at a CLEAR enrollment center or try CLEAR FREE for 2 months when you enroll online here.
Once you register, you’ll be required to visit an enrollment center to set up your fingerprint or other biometric information. You don’t need to schedule an appointment ahead of time, and you can start using the CLEAR lanes that very same day.
To get CLEAR, the membership requirements are pretty straightforward. You must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident and be at least 18 years old. You’ll also need to have a valid, unexpired photo ID, which can be a US driver’s license, state-issued ID, US military ID, US passport, US passport card, or a US-issued permanent resident card.
If you had a CLEAR membership before but let it expire, you can use your old account. Though the original CLEAR company went bankrupt in 2009, this current company is a resurrection of the previous CLEAR program, and you can easily reactivate your account online.
All of your biometric information is likely already safely stored in your former membership profile, and you shouldn’t need to provide new scans or prints to turn your account back on. You may also be pleasantly surprised to know that any remaining time you had on your old account will transfer to your new reactivated membership.
For more information about a prior membership, or if you want to reactivate your old account, you can call 855-CLEARme (253-2763). Someone is there to answer your questions and help restart your membership on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST.
How Does CLEAR Protect My Data?
If safety is a concern and you’re worried about your biometric data being stored in the cloud somewhere, CLEAR wants you to rest easy. Just like safety and security measures are of great value at airports, the company behind CLEAR is also committed to customer security.
Using double encryption technology, the company keeps your data private and secure. So, as you breeze through the security process with ease, you can have peace of mind knowing your information is stored securely.
Final Thoughts: Is CLEAR Worth It?
If you don’t qualify for TSA PreCheck, or if you want to move through even faster, CLEAR may be worth it for you. Additionally, if you frequent stadiums for sporting events, concerts, and more, CLEAR may be a good fit.
Remember that the CLEAR program and the TSA PreCheck process are different. Even if you already have TSA PreCheck, you can benefit from adding a CLEAR membership. Having CLEAR will lets you jump to the front of the line and avoid that time-sucking ID screening process, but you still have to go through the actual scanning process. TSA PreCheck customers also benefit from shorter ID screening lines. However, as the program becomes more popular, lines in some airports are getting longer.
With TSA PreCheck, you can also slide through the physical screening faster because you don’t have to dig out your liquids or your laptop – they can stay safely packed in your bag. You also won’t be bothered with taking off your shoes, your jacket, or your belt, which saves time for you and everyone else in line, too.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck and want it, here’s a list of credit cards will let you get TSA PreCheck for free. After all, that’s more money you can spend on souvenirs, right?
We hope this CLEAR airport security program review has been helpful! Thanks so much for reading, and happy traveling!