If passengers want to spend $179 for nothing, CLEAR (Alclear, LLC) is touted as a new technological breakthrough that will get passengers through airport security faster. In reality, CLEAR is a variation of a fake medical elixir once sold by traveling medicine man frauds. There are no CLEAR benefits. The program does not move passengers through TSA security any faster than TSA’s own PreCheck program. CLEAR is a lot of fluff that only separates passengers from their money.
When I was asked in a CBS News interview about CLEAR, I focused on the way that it attempted to provide another way to separate entitled travelers from the masses who need to stand in line to get through airport security. Worse, it added a money-making element to the security process by using the part controlled by the airport and airlines — the line, prior to TSA Security — as part of its sales spiel.
After watching the CLEAR system in operation, I have a single big question — “Where’s the beef?” Where are the time savings? What are travelers getting for their $179/year fee other than some fancy technology.
CLEAR is only operational at 15 airports and it does not speed anyone through TSA’s security screening. Only PreCheck does that. And, PreCheck does it effectively.
Here is what CLEAR does not do. The first line on CLEAR’s website states, “CLEAR is the fastest and most predictable way to get through airport security.” It is a lie. CLEAR has nothing to do with airport security or with TSA security. It is simply a way that the rich, entitled travelers can cut to the front of the line waiting for TSA security. The security process is totally separate from CLEAR.
With TSA PreCheck, the actual security check is different. Passengers can leave their shoes on. They can keep their sports coats on. Computers do not have to come out of carry-on bags. Liquids do not have to be tucked into small plastic bags. Plus, travelers are not forced to go through full body scanners.
A CLEAR customer who goes to the front of the security line without TSA PreCheck still has to go through the full TSA security screening rigamarole — computer out of carry-on, liquids in plastic bag, full body scanner, shoes off, coats off, and they have to deal wth families and any other travelers already in the TSA security process. The only benefit is front-of-the-line status. And, I observed that Delta already provides this for free at Atlanta Airport for their elite fliers, with or without CLEAR. There are no clear security benefits.
If travelers have an extra $179 which they want to donate to a good cause, send it to Travelers United. And, join TSA’s PreCheck program for less than half the cost of CLEAR. With PreCheck, moving through the airport security process is real. With CLEAR, claims of moving through “TSA security” more quickly are totally bogus and misleading. Simply, there are no clear benefits. The security process doesn’t change at all
Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 11 years with Congress, the Department of Transportation and industry stakeholders on travel issues. He was the first consumer representative to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections appointed by the Secretary of Transportation from 2012 through 2018.