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FlyClear: Cutting in line so the terrorists won’t win

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 — which is what Clear is really about — if there’s a pretense that it enhances security.

As far as whether all the fancy-shmancy biometrics — heck, my face is the only biometric I need! — 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.

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June 22, 2009: Clear just went out of business.

8 Responses to “FlyClear: Cutting in line so the terrorists won’t win”

  1. “Clear expects to unveil shoe-scanning technology as soon as it is approved by TSA, which will enable Clear members to leave their shoes on during security screening” , so they are trying to keep your shoes on too.

    Their graphic on the top of the “How it Works” section shows what appears to be a person flying left into a row of toppling people, which I don’t get at all. Worse, when I first looked at it, I thought the flying person was a gun pointed to the left and that it had just fired. Any one else think that?

  2. Perhaps for $200 a year you can have the honor of both shorter lines and helping to finance the usability tests?

  3. Sorry, I meant the image looked like gun was pointing to the right.

  4. Wow, Andy, that is an unfortunate graphic!

    It’s the the graphic in the strip at the top of this page.

  5. I presume it’s obvious that terrorists don’t give a damn about revealing their identity or paying handsomely to do so? All they care about is that people don’t know they are a terrorist until the act is complete.

    I therefore deduce that those whose identities have been established are therefore assured to be middle aged WASPs or those matching a non-terrorist inclined profile? Do they have an exemption for discriminating on ethnicity, religion, and swarthiness?

  6. Well, it doesn’t matter now because as of 11p.m this evening CLEAR is shut down. My hubby just lost his job, so I know for sure. You can go to to check for yourself. Guess they shouldn’t have banked on people wanting to cut in line after all!

  7. ChicInIndy, sorry to hear it. And the Clear employee I talked with in DC seemed to be a nice fellow. It sucks when businesses fail. Good luck to you and your husband.

  8. Yes, it’s official, Clear is out of business. Below is an e-mail I just got from them:

    Dear David,
    At 11:00 p.m. PST today, Clear will cease operations. Clear’s parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.

    After today, Clear lanes will be unavailable.
    Clear Customer Support

    $128 down the poop chute! Oh well, at least I didn’t get the 3 year membership, I’m sure those people are REALLY mad right now. Not to mention there are now lots of people in the DC area out of work.

    ChicInIndy, best wishes to you and your husband, I hope something comes through soon. Having your job go under is no fun, I’ve had that happen twice myself.

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