The last few times we flew out of Orlando, the TSA lines have been unbelievably long. The regular security line stretched all the way back towards the food court. It looked exactly like this:
We had to work our way through the crowds to make it to the TSA PreCheck lanes. Once we got to the PreCheck line, it was still a 10 minute wait to get our ID’s approved while we waited for the people who weren’t supposed to be in the line to be told they needed to go and wait in the 45 minute line going down the hall. But there was one line that was empty – the one for CLEAR.
The CLEAR program has been around, in some form, since 2005. The original company that provided the service went bankrupt in 2009 but the program restarted under new ownership in 2010. The program uses advanced scanning to verify your identity and provide expedited clearance through the TSA checkpoints. Here’s how the program works:
The program gets you through the first part of the security process, the one where a TSA agent scans your boarding pass, looks at your ID, looks at you, looks back at your boarding pass, looks back at you again, makes some scribbles, circles or stamps on your boarding pass and points you to the line for x-ray screening.
You still get segregated after CLEAR into either the regular screening line or the TSA PreCheck line. So if you want the quickest trip through security, you’ll need to also apply for TSA PreCheck (or Global Entry which provides TSA PreCheck).
For us, CLEAR would be be an obvious time saver. The question is if the amount of time we’d save would be worth the enrollment fee? That depends on how many flights we’d take in a year and if the airports we’re flying to/from have CLEAR. Currently, CLEAR only operates at 24 airports nationwide.
- Atlanta (ATL)
- New York John F. Kennedy (JFK)
- New York LaGuardia (LGA)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- San Jose (SJC)
- Denver (DEN)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
- Dallas Love Field (DAL)
- Houston Bush (IAH)
- Houston Hobby (HOU)
- San Antonio (SAT)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- Austin (AUS)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Miami (MIA)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Baltimore-Washington (BWI)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
- Washington Reagan (DCA)
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP)
- Westchester County Airport (HPN)
Since our home airport is on the list, we’d be able to use it for every flight out of Orlando. However only half of the airports we’d be flying to are on the list, so that’s a bunch of flights for which it would give no value.
Membership in the CLEAR program usually costs $179 a year (or ONLY $15 PER MONTH, as they like to advertise). I’d never go for it at that price. Luckily, almost everyone is able to take advantage of a discounted price.
CLEAR has partnered with Delta to provide discounted memberships to all Delta SkyMiles members. Here’s the breakdown of the discounted prices for an annual membership:
- General Members – $99
- Platinum / Gold / Silver Medallion Members and
Select SkyMiles Credit Card Members – $79
- Diamond Medallion Members – Free
So just for having a SkyMiles account, which is free, you save $80. If you don’t have an account, here’s our article on how to sign up for the airline programs. If you have status with Delta or have a Delta Co-Brand American Express card (any personal or business versions of the Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards count), the annual fee goes down to $79. Delta Diamond Medallion members get CLEAR membership for free.
Once you apply, you can also add up to three additional family members for $50 each. Children under 18 can use the CLEAR lane for free and do not need to enroll.
With the Delta discount and $50 additional person fee, It would cost $129 for both of us to enroll for a year. I’m really tempted but I just don’t know if we’ll use it enough to make sense.
I’ve seen links for a free two months trial of CLEAR. I found out these are referral links where the person signing up gets two months free and the referrer also gets two months free. This wouldn’t be a good deal if you’d still have to pay the full $179 price. However on the webpage explaining the Delta discounted pricing, there’s a place where you can add your Delta information to your existing CLEAR account. It seems that you could stack the two offers (getting the two free months and then only paying the reduced rate).
Does anyone out there use CLEAR? What are your thoughts? Is it worthwhile? Either way, please comment here. If you have a referral link, you can post it here (as long as you also share your thoughts about CLEAR. If you don’t share yours thoughts, we won’t put up your link. We mean it! ;-)). I’ll need one to get my two free months (and give you two free months as well).
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