CLEAR is an expedited airport security service provided by a private company that operates at several U.S. airports. The process uses biometric security features (e.g., retinal scan and finger prints) to allow customers to bypass the usual document security check and proceed directly to the actual screening process: metal detectors, body scanners, and baggage inspection.
At some airports, waiting to show your boarding pass and identification to security officials is actually the longest step, which is why CLEAR has the potential to save you time at the airport. It essentially lets you cut the line. Locations are available in Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Houston (Bush and Hobby), Las Vegas, Miami, Orland, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose, Westchester, and Seattle (coming soon).
The Devil’s Advocate is busy today and asked me to pass along a special offer for new members to try CLEAR by paying just $15 to enroll for four months.
Keep in mind that your service will automatically renew after that time at a rate of $179 per year if you do not cancel first. The offer is only valid if you enroll by July 4. Some people are fans of CLEAR. The Devil’s Advocate even devoted one of his articles to using the service instead of PreCheck.
I am personally skeptical. While it is superior to the standard security experience most people face, I don’t think it adds much benefit to those already enrolled in PreCheck or other trusted traveler programs like Global Entry. After using CLEAR to bypass the document review, you are still directed to whatever security process you’d normally be eligible for. In cities like Seattle, the PreCheck line tends to move quite quickly, and document review is not the bottleneck. CLEAR is unlikely to improve the process.
CLEAR is also a more expensive solution to the problem of long security queues. PreCheck costs just $85 for five years, working out to $15 per year. CLEAR costs $179 per year, nearly 1,200% more. If you have neither, I suggest you try enrolling in PreCheck first.
Where I do see some advantage to CLEAR is at those airports where all security options are congested. I once waited an hour to pass through PreCheck at Newark, and it wasn’t even a particularly busy holiday season. But such airports are an exception rather than the rule in my experience. Between this and the limited number of airports where CLEAR operates, I expect it will continue to have a niche following.