A couple weeks ago I reviewed CLEAR, a service that offers expedited passage through airport security. It doesn’t make the actual security process any faster or less invasive (you can use PreCheck for that), but it does get you past the ID check. This is often the longest line at the airport. I have seen hour-long lines even for PreCheck at some airports.
CLEAR uses biometric data like finger prints and iris scans to get you past the ID check and directly next to the baggage scanner. I’ve had mixed feelings about it because my own travel patterns don’t see very long lines for ID check. Others like it. It really depends on your personal travel patterns.
But last week I was traveling on a school trip (it sounds so juvenile despite being 33). In my rush to pack I forgot to bring my driver license with me. I even made a point of removing my passport from my bag, wondering why it was still there and how easily it could get lost.
I got to the airport and made it all the way through security using CLEAR before I realized that I didn’t have my ID with me. It wasn’t until I reached the American Express Centurion Lounge that I noticed the missing card. Fortunately, staff there were able to admit me after looking up my cardholder PIN. I made it through most of the rest of my trip with an awkward look every time a hotel or office receptionist asked for ID.
On the way back through SFO, I was able to use CLEAR again and make it through security without a problem.
You don’t need to have CLEAR to make it through a situation like mine. The TSA has guidelines in place for screening people without ID. But it will be damn inconvenient. Expect to provide your name, address, and other identifying information. You’ll have to go through a pat down, and an agent may dig through your bag to verify there are no contraband materials.
As readers pointed out last time, CLEAR is only $99 per year if you have a Delta SkyMiles membership number — even without any elite status — and there are further discounts or even free CLEAR membership if you have a Delta credit card or Delta elite status. Only you can decide if it’s worth it, but add my experience to the list of positive benefits.