NEW YORK – Do real New Yorkers ever wait in line? Not so, or shouldn’t have to, according to Clear, with their tag line of ‘Always Move Forward’, a domestic airport biometric clearance system, which for a recurring monthly fee, will help you breeze through lines for flights in a nanosecond.
Well, maybe a bit more time, depending on your level of clearance, with even the possibility of not having to take off your shoes and socks, regret that heavy lunch with a few beers, which becomes a mighty hindrance as you try to be sporty and sprightly, bend down to tie those tiresome shoelaces, after the metal screening is done with, and find yourself an inch short of reaching it.
Clear (www.clearme.com) is at present available in more a dozen airports in the United States. They are trying to popularize the concept for frequent travelers, who if they were to tabulate time spent in airport lines and security clearance – sometimes at multiple points at sensitive airports, might find out to their dismay that the total hours spent trundling with hand baggage and raising arms to stop metal detectors from buzzing, amounts to more than the span of a business visit.
Clear has a display and advertising booth stationed at Grand Central in Manhattan, the hub of Metro North trains, to Connecticut and upstate New York. An employee of Clear explained to me recently that the fee for the service is $179 a month per individual (with an additional $50 for a family member), with a promotional offer of two months free when you enroll.
Clear works the same as Pre-check in airports. It uses scanning measures like iris of eyes and fingerprints, plus scrutiny of government-issued photos IDs, to skip to the front of a line.
The employee explained that with Clear, one is assured of not being singled out. An economy passenger has the same advantage as a business class passenger or those with elite status. Everybody gets the same preferential treatment, based on who got there first.
On doing my due diligence research, I found that a blog on thepointsguy.com points out that Clear has some distinct advantages over Global Entry, which offers access to TSA Pre-Check.
While TSA Pre-Check members may be randomly pulled up for screening and security clearance – which means it doesn’t guarantee them a smooth, conveyor belt ride to the door of the airplane – with Clear, one is assured of expedited entry.
Also, while Pre-Check only works when traveling with a participating airline, Clear works when traveling with any airline.
I like Clear, but the fact of the matter, as the employee told me too, is that it’s an advantage only for frequent travelers, just a rather unnecessary expense otherwise for normal travelers.
Or, I guess, it will suit those who prefer to feel like a royal VIP all the time, distinct, not to be grouped with commoners who wait it out in airport lines, harangued by security for forgetting that quarter in a back pocket.
Clear would also be very helpful for those who like to make the airports with time only to run in like crazy, and beg strangers to be at the head of the line as his flight is leaving in 15 minutes. Yes, you sure would be happy with Clear.