What is Clear airport security — and is it worth it?

Clear Plus is an expedited security program that is currently available at 56 U.S. airports, as well as stadiums and other large venues. With over 17 million members nationwide, Clear is a secure identity platform that uses member data, including fingerprint and iris scans, to automate the identity verification step in the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening process. Clear members go through a separate security lane with dedicated kiosks, bypassing the need to wait in line for a TSA agent to review their license or passport. While Clear comes at an annual cost of $189, some credit cards cover the cost entirely or at a discounted rate.

Clear works by requiring passengers to first complete identity verification in a separate Clear lane by submitting to biometric authentication, either a fingerprint or iris scan, at a kiosk. This replaces the step of using a TSA agent to inspect government IDs and check boarding passes. After verifying a passenger’s identity, a Clear representative will escort Clear users to the actual security screening area, bypassing everyone waiting in the first line. If the passenger is also enrolled in TSA PreCheck, they can go directly to the TSA PreCheck line. Additionally, Reserve powered by Clear allows travelers to book timed entry through TSA security based on flight departure and is currently available at 20 airports across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Clear is currently available at 56 U.S. airports, including major airports such as Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport, among others. Clear is also available at select entrances to stadiums during some events, including Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., Madison Square Garden in New York City, and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

When comparing Clear to TSA PreCheck, Clear further reduces airport security wait time by automating the identity verification process and whisking users to the front of the TSA line. However, having Clear does not automatically confer TSA PreCheck status, and it is currently available at fewer airports than TSA PreCheck. While TSA PreCheck members are not guaranteed access every time they fly, Clear has no randomized exclusion of passengers. Clear also works when traveling with any carrier, whereas TSA PreCheck only works when traveling with participating airlines. However, both Clear and TSA PreCheck are restricted to certain hours and may not be available during your flight time.

Clear also offers Clear Sports & Events access, which allows members to use Clear at select stadiums for expedited entry to games. This membership is free and available to all Clear members but does not provide access to non-stadium Clear locations like airports. Clear members can bring one adult guest through the Clear lane daily at stadiums and venues, and children under 18 can use the lane for free when accompanied by a Clear member.

To enroll in Clear, you can start the enrollment process online and finish at a Clear location or complete the entire process at a Clear location. The enrollment process takes about five minutes and requires no appointment. To qualify for Clear enrollment, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident at least 18 years old and have a valid photo ID.

While the normal rate for Clear membership is $189 per year, there are several ways to save on Clear. Clear members who refer friends to the program receive two months of free membership each, and a two-month trial is also available through a referral link. Clear has also partnered with select airlines to offer special membership rates for their members. Additionally, certain credit cards cover Clear fees as a benefit, reimbursing up to $189 per year in Clear Plus membership costs.

In conclusion, Clear can be a valuable timesaver for frequent travelers, especially if it is available at your home airport or one you visit frequently. It allows for expedited security screening by automating the identity verification process and bypassing the need to wait in line for a TSA agent. While there is an annual cost associated with Clear, there are ways to save on membership fees, including through credit card benefits and referral programs. Overall, Clear offers convenience and efficiency for travelers looking to streamline their airport experience.

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