Part of the problem with being a freelance writer is that I have to travel, albeit usually at others expense but I have to travel which means trains, planes and automobiles, the middle of the three being the most bothersome. Denver International is a good 45 minutes away from the city anyway and then between the check in lines and the security lines a good 2 or 3 hours can be wiled away in any airport. However in these post 9-11 days the lines are lengthening and in response airlines have done web check-in so you only have to drop your bags (in a shorter and separate line of course).
Now it appears that the TSA and Homeland Security have taken a page out of the airlines playbook and created a system for travelers to save time in security lines. With online registration, a kiosk visit, and $100 for a year membership, the traveling public can shorten their security wait. The process goes like this (from their site, http://www.flyclear.com/) “Clear’s simple, two step enrollment process begins online. Applicants create an account and fill-in basic biographic information. Then, applicants must go to a Clear enrollment location, where our attendants will verify two forms of government-issued identification, and capture a photograph, your fingerprint images and your iris images.” Along with that you also get a clear “Clear Card” that has all this info on for your use at the check point.
Then when you fly next you don’t herd like cattle into the main security line you go into the special line for CLEAR, again from their own site “
The Clear lane is a designated lane at the security checkpoint. Clear Members must verify a fingerprint or iris image (collected during enrollment) in order to enter the lane. At the Clear lane, a Clear attendant will greet you and check your boarding pass, Clear card and government-issued photo ID. You will be asked to insert your Clear card into the kiosk, which also verifies the fingerprint or iris image that you selected during enrollment. When everything is verified (which takes just a few seconds), you will receive a receipt indicating that you are a Clear member.
Clear members still proceed through metal detectors and x-ray machines operated and regulated by the Department of Homeland Security but other parts of the process are expedited. When you approach the lane, our attendants will help you with the bins and to get ready to go through the checkpoint. This alone helps our lane speed by as much as 30%!
The nice thing about this is that the Homeland Security does monitor the members of this to make sure that everyone meets security standards. But here is the disturbing part. The CLEAR system isn’t operated by the TSA, homeland security or any government at all. It is operated by a for-profit company. It will be interesting to see in the future how this relationship works out. But for some money and verifiable ID’s you can hurry through security. I think the upside is that they still go through all the security just faster, much like the on-line check in, you go through everything still just a little faster.
Personally, I will wait for the first security breech and I couldn’t help but point out that the 9-11 terrorists all had verifiable ID’s. I am glad that they are saving travelers time but these excess security regulations are unnecessary because all the hijackers on 9-11 passed through security then and according the report did not carry the boxcutters onto the plane.
At the same time until the present the US had the most lax security on its airlines in the world. We are just now getting our security regulations up to world wide standards. Frankly, if you are going to record fingerprints, iris scans, bios, and ID’s for those wishing to hurry through security why not for all travelers? Would it not increase our security (logically) to keep this information on all passengers that we know who flies on our airplanes?
I am glad that I can save time but the TSA needs to choose what it is going to do, increased security or only increased security for those who want to not stand in line…….