Airports Slowly Return To Clear Security Line Program

 - June 11, 2012, 10:00 AM
Clear's version of "trusted traveler" security screening takes effect at San Francisco International Airport this month.

As the revived Clear premium security line program opens at its third airport, San Francisco International, one of its co-founders admits progress in getting into other airports has proved slow.
The original Clear registered traveler program shut down abruptly in June 2009 after investors cut off funding.  In April 2010, Ken Cornick and Caryn Seidman-Becker bought the assets of Clear to revive the program.
Different contract processes and skepticism about the new company have resulted in some hesitation on the part of airports considering premium security lines, said Cornick.  “It’s understandable that people are skeptical, since the old company shut down,” he noted. “But we have a business and a market that ensures success and, from the outside, that’s not always clear.”
Clear now operates at the Orlando and Denver international airports and plans call for the program to open in Dallas/Fort Worth this month. “As we get more members and airports, the network effect becomes very powerful,” said Cornick.
Clear faces some competition from the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck trusted traveler program, which continues to expand at airports across the country.  But Clear, said Cornick, is selling predictability.
“If there are long lines at the airport, members can use the Clear line with its biometric card and shorter lines,” said Cornick.  “That means you can leave a meeting later or have breakfast with your kids because you know you’ll have a predictable experience in security lines. It’s more productive than waiting at the airport.”
Clear continues to use biometric cards even though the TSA stopped performing background checks on their holders once it ended its Registered Traveler pilot program in 2008, said Cornick. “The biometrics are important because members don’t have to see a document checker because they can prove they are who they say they are and they can speed through to physical screening,” he said.   
Looking ahead, Clear projects a broader vision of what it can do, said Cornick. “In Orlando, members can get store discounts, and we’re working on a hotel partnership that will give upgrades to members,” he said.  “We want to add other travel benefits, but our main focus is on offering members predictability and good service.”