At the Reagan Airport (would I be jumping the gun to start calling it the Obama Airport already?), Clear has a little square of space right before the security inspection stations. For $200/year, you can skip the long lines and go for the exceedingly short line to Clear. There the uniformed employees will compare some of your body parts (iris and fingerprints) with the information on the Clear card you present. Once you’re through, you can go straight to the Conveyor of Transparencies where you rejoin the hoi polloi so that the TSA can make sure your shoes aren’t on fire.
What I don’t get is why Clear has to give you an extra special biometric scan. Why can’t they just do what the TSA folks do: Look at your drivers license, look at you, and wave you on through? All I can figure is that Clear’s market research showed that people would be more willing to pay to cut in line â€” which is what Clear is really about â€” if there’s a pretense that it enhances security.
As far as whether all the fancy-shmancy biometrics â€” heck, my face is the only biometric I need! â€” actually increases security, if I were an evil do-er, I’d just bribe a Clear airport employee. They don’t go through security clearances the way TSA folks do, at least according to the Clear employee I asked.
June 22, 2009: Clear just went out of business.