Review – Clear
At the beginning of June this year, I took part in a free trial of CLEAR along with my wife. Funny thing: the promotion I signed up for through Tripit Pro, gave me a 3 month trial, and she ended up getting 2 years! This was a perfectly timed trial as we had a few trips coming up to use CLEAR.
WHAT IS CLEAR?
At most airports today, you have the regular line, and the TSA PreCheck line. The Precheck line allows you to keep your shoes and light outerwear on and leave laptop and toiletries in your carry-on. Random flyers are given access to the Precheck line, or if you have purchased TSA Precheck ($85 for 5 years) or Global Entry ($100 for 5 years – the better value) you will also have access. Thus the number of Precheck flyers is less than the general population, but depending on the day/time and airport, the lines can be long. This is where CLEAR comes in. As CLEAR is $179 per year (without any discounts) there are not many CLEAR flyers. At CLEAR locations, there are usually 3 Biometric scanners that will scan your fingerprints and boarding pass, taking about 15 seconds. Once done, you are escorted to the front of your line: TSA-Precheck or Regular. So depending on the airport you frequent, this could be a huge time saver.
WHERE IS CLEAR?
As of this writing, CLEAR is at 26 airports and 13 Sports Stadiums throughout the United States.
After signing up online, you have to do a setup at the CLEAR kiosk the first time you go through. This process took about 4-5 minutes and consisted of inputting fingerprints, scanning ID, and answering security questions (i.e. out of these 5 streets, which one have you lived on before.) Once done, we scanned our boarding pass and were escorted to the front of the “practically non-existent” TSA Precheck line.
Our second time using CLEAR was at Yankee Stadium. This did in fact save us lots of time. The regular lines to get into the park were very long including security scanning. We went to the CLEAR kiosk, scanned fingerprints, and went right to a gentlemen to check our backpack.
Our next time using CLEAR was at LGA. There was not a big line, so this did not save us much time.
Since our trip to New York, I have used CLEAR twice: once at LAX and once at SLC. At LAX, I believe it took me in front of two people, but at SLC I was able to cut in front of about 15 people in the PreCheck line. On one trip out of LAX, there was no one in TSA-Precheck, and thus I didn’t need to use CLEAR.
While it feels pretty cool to be escorted to the front of the line, for us there hasn’t been many opportunities to do so. We have traveled at very convenient times when the lines were very short as is. And for $179 per year, we definitely could not justify the cost. My guess is that prices will have to be reduced to have more CLEAR members, or it will be included in Premium Credit Cards as a perk. Until that time, we are fine using the TSA Precheck line.