In a world where flying creates feelings of stress and anxiety, CLEAR was created to come to the rescue. I don’t know about you, but I find myself more anxious about navigating the security checkpoint than I do the flight itself. If you’re like me, then read on—because this might just be for you.
How Does it Work?
Simply put, the CLEAR program allows you to walk up to a security line and jump everyone else in line. I originally heard about it after I had booked a flight and received an email offering a 30-day FREE trial. After reading through the details, I signed up (excitedly, I might add).
When you first get to the airport, if you don’t have bags to check, you need to head over to their kiosk. They usually have a couple of people working at these to assist you through the process. You’ll enter some of your basic information (name, date of birth, etc.) and they’ll need to see some identification. Then they walk you through a process where the machine scans your eyes. It takes a little maneuvering back and forth, but a fairly easy process. They then scan your fingers.
Once this process is finished, you shouldn’t need to do it again. They will then escort you to security, and walk you to the front of the line for whatever status you have (general boarding or TSA Pre-Check). Since your identity has already been verified there is no need to hand your ID/passport and boarding pass to the TSA agent. Nothing is more exhilarating than breezing past a line where you could’ve waited 20 minutes to an hour.
How is it different from TSA Pre-check?
TSA Pre-check is a government program where your security screening is done in advance. For $85 you get a 5-year membership that allows you to go through a special line where you don’t have to remove: shoes, light jackets, computers, cameras, or liquids from your bags. You apply for the program online and then schedule an appt. to get screened in person—they verify your identity, fingerprint you, and run a background check. After this is done—and pending your approval—it allows you to enter this expedited security line. CLEAR is special in that it allows you to bypass this line and jump right to the front. You zip through security even faster.
What Does it Cost?
CLEAR costs $179 per year of membership, and an additional $50 to add an adult family member—children under 18 are free with a paid member. Though the cost seems high at first glance, it averages out to only $15 per month. Not bad, right? Even better, there are often promotions where you can get a trial membership (30-90 days free) or discounted rates. We recommended finding an offer for a free trial to test it out and see if it’s right for you—that’s how I got hooked!
Where is CLEAR Available?
The company is expanding steadily throughout the US and currently offer their service in these cities:
Salt Lake City
San Francisco Bay Area
Seattle and Washington D.C.
Not just for Airports
CLEAR has Partnered with Delta to allow faster access to their airport lounges. You simply scan your finger and are able to check in quickly and efficiently. They’ve recently expanded to some football field and baseball stadiums. For example, you can now bypass lines at Century Link Field in Seattle with a simple swipe of the finger. Hertz is also a partner, allowing for a smoother car rental process. They are expanding and reaching out to new partners constantly.
Pros & Cons
Here are noteworthy points from my CLEAR analysis:
- CLEAR is currently the only program of its kind. The closest comparison is TSA, but obviously, this trumps that.
- It is 100% convenient and makes the hassle of air travel security that much better.
- As stated above, it’s useful for more than just airports.
- Kids under 18 are free with a paid member—huge cost savings for family.
- If you aren’t constantly traveling for work, the cost is a little high.
- Occasionally, their machines can malfunction and you’ll need to redo your eye and fingerprint scan at a kiosk. While this hasn’t personally happened to us, we have seen it happen.
- According to their member terms, the family member plan requires that everyone resides at the same address. If a family member on the plan changes addresses, CLEAR will change them to the primary policy-holder and convert their membership to the “full member” and pro-rate the remaining cost.
- Sometimes, depending on the airport, the TSA agent may still require you to show your passport or ID.
Is CLEAR Secure?
According to their website, CLEAR is a safer and more secure option to verify your identity. They “transform your biometrics into an encrypted code” unique to only you. Every time you check in, you are quickly matched to your specific code and your identity is verified as you’re quickly whisked past your line. It is also certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
If you frequent airports for work or simply have a travel bug, I highly recommend CLEAR. You simply can’t beat the low cost for the convenience. You’d pay $15 extra for earlier boarding on a flight, so why not do it for a hassle-free trip through security? It’s simple, secure, and lets you focus on where you’re headed next—not stuck waiting in line.