Should I Sign Up For CLEAR?
Ok, so you’ve got your TSA PreCheck and/or your Global Entry membership. Do you really need CLEAR as well? In my opinion, anything that makes traveling easier and more time efficient is a no-brainer for me and worth every penny. I was such an early member of the program, that I possess an actual CLEAR card, which I don’t believe they even issue anymore.
First of all, what is CLEAR? CLEAR is a security service that uses your biometric data – your fingerprints and your irises, to identify you. It then allows you to jump to the very front of the security line at the airport. CLEAR is not a government program, although it is certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
It’s not too time consuming to get your CLEAR membership. You fill out a short application online. Then you bring your required identification for a background check and have your biometric data scanned at a participating airport. (You don’t need an appointment for this.) Each person’s biometrics are then encrypted into a code which is used at the airport CLEAR kiosks to identify you.
My golden formula = CLEAR + Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Here’s how the process works at the airport – first, you go to the CLEAR kiosk at the security checkpoint area. You use either your fingerprints or irises to identify you. Then, a CLEAR representative physically walks you to the FRONT of the line, be it the TSA PreCheck line or the regular security line, depending on your status and the airport. You won’t need to show your ID to the TSA agent – just your boarding pass.
The cost? $179 a year. You can also add up to three family members for $50 a year. One thing to note is that CLEAR isn’t available at all airports. Currently, it’s available at over 40 airports, and they are adding more all the time. They do have the main ones covered, totaling about 80% of domestic travel. In addition, many sports arenas are starting to use CLEAR, such as Oracle Park in San Francisco.
I will admit that I don’t use my CLEAR every single time I travel. If the TSA PreCheck line is really short, then I just hop right in that line. But, if the TSA PreCheck line is long, or I find myself at an airport without one available then my CLEAR is a lifesaver.
My golden formula = CLEAR + Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be relaxing in the lounge before a flight than standing in a security line.