Having done a lot of flying, airport security is one of my least favorite parts of travel. It’s like a DMV inside an airport. The lines are usually very long and the whole process seems chaotic. Not to mention that TSA employees look like they would be better suited for working the register at a local McDonald’s rather than being the last line of defense in the war on terror.
So when I heard there was a new system out called Clear that would rush me through airport security, I was thrilled. The fact that you have to sign up in advanced and agree to a security clearance, for a fee of course, seemed like a small price to pay. I saw plenty of people online complaining about privacy, but I’m not sure how much privacy I expect when I book a ticker on an airline anyway. The government can see where I’m going, and I don’t really care.
I originally read about Clear years ago, and there were no airports using the service yet, which kinda made it useless. But now it looks like they picked up a few more airports. Although the cities I visit most; Chicago and Las Vegas, don’t use it. And my local airport in Medford is way too small to need such a thing. But San Francisco and New York are covered, so I decided to check things out more.
I looked over the website, and I’m a little confused about how this is going to save time. It appears that you check in with your airline and baggage like normal. Then you proceed to a special line for Clear customers. At this point you have to perform a retinal scan or finger print check, both items collected when you sign up for Clear. Then you get to an attendant who will check your boarding pass and ID, and then you have to run you Clear card (looks like an Amex Blue card) through the reader.
After all that, you then have to go to the X-Ray line. But they say “our attendants will help you with the bins and to get ready to go through the checkpoint. This alone helps our lane speed by as much as 30%!”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t really need help with a bin. Honestly, getting myself through the x-ray line feels like a one person job to me. I think having someone else trying to help would just slow things up.
So, since I have to go through the same exact line as everyone else, and there doesn’t appear to be any mention to me getting to cut through lines, I don’t see the point. I’m guessing there is maybe another line that leads to to the x-ray machines that I would get to use. Maybe there are even exclusive x-ray machine lanes for Clear members. Just to be clear (no pun intended) I’m not slamming the idea, just the lack of info on the website.
Update: I did a quick check on YouTube and found the above video that shows more info. So it looks like this is a separate x-ray line at airports, which is good. I can see where that would make things much faster.
They also said their working on the ability to let members keep their jackets and shoes on, as well as leave their laptops in their bag. This would be incredibly helpful. Taking out my laptop is one of the biggest hassles of the line.
It feels like the idea is to provide paying members better equipment and more personal than regular customers, so as to make things easier and faster. This would be a great add-on for frequent flier members from airlines trying to get their business. Of course if everyone gets this service, I wonder which line will be quicker.