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What is CLEAR? Airport security made easy

Three CLEAR airport kiosks

If you have a travel credit card—particularly a premium travel credit card—chances are you’re familiar with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Many cards these days come along with a statement credit benefit that will essentially net you enrollment in these programs for free. But these days, there’s another program gaining in popularity across the United States that also helps speed the security screening process, and that’s CLEAR.

Since my goal at 52 Cities is to loop you in on options for making travel easier and more efficient (read: getting you into VIP lines whenever possible), I thought I would take this opportunity to share more info about CLEAR today—particularly since if you’re a Delta SkyMiles member, you already have free or reduced-price access to the program! Read on to learn all about CLEAR, including how it works, where you can find it, and how to decide if it’s a good fit for you. 

People in security line

WHAT IS CLEAR AIRPORT SECURITY?

CLEAR is a biometrics company whose technology uses scans of your irises and fingerprints to verify your identity. The result? CLEAR members zip through the airport without having to wait for a TSA agent to do an ID check.

If you already have PreCheck, think of CLEAR as a complementary piece. While a PreCheck screening makes the physical screening process faster, CLEAR makes the identify-checking process faster. Put them together, and you’ll whizz through in no time.

Access in a tap
A biometrics company whose technology uses scans of your irises and fingerprints to verify your identify

WHICH AIRPORTS HAVE CLEAR?

Right now, 30 airports around the country have CLEAR (as well as several stadiums!), and more are on the way. The company plans to add lanes at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and others, an employee recently told me. Here’s the current list of CLEAR’s airport locations:

  • Atlanta – Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Austin – Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
  • Baltimore – Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Boston – Boston Logan International Airport
  • Cincinnati – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Cleveland – Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
  • Dallas – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Dallas – Dallas Love Field Airport
  • Denver – Denver International Airport
  • Detroit – Detroit Metro Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Houston – George Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • Houston– William P. Hobby Airport
  • Las Vegas – McCarran International Airport
  • Los Angeles – Los Angeles International Airport
  • Miami – Miami International Airport
  • Minneapolis – Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport
  • New Orleans – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
  • New York; John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • New York – LaGuardia Airport
  • New York – Westchester County Airport
  • Orlando – Orlando International Airport
  • Phoenix – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Salt Lake City – Salt Lake City International Airport
  • San Antonio – San Antonio International Airport
  • San Francisco Bay Area – San Francisco International Airport
  • Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • San Jose – Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport
  • Washington, D.C. – Dulles International Airport
  • Washington, D.C. – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

CLEAR airport enroll sign
agent helping people

CLEAR AIRPORT SCREENING

Before you can get started using CLEAR, you’ll need to register and complete a short screening. The first step is to sign up online or at the airport, and the enrollment process takes just a couple of minutes. Also, the online form will ask for your full name, email address, zip code and date of birth (keep in mind that CLEAR is currently only available to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents age 18 years and older with a valid photo ID).

If you started the process online, the next step is to visit a CLEAR location. There, agents will ask you a few simple questions to verify your identity, check your ID and attach your biometrics—your fingerprints and a picture of your irises—to your account. And that’s it!

HOW TO USE CLEAR AT THE AIRPORT

Once you’ve got your membership, using CLEAR is a breeze. All you have to do to use the service at the airport is enter a CLEAR lane (located near security checkpoints at the airport), do a finger or iris scan at a dedicated kiosk, scan your boarding pass, and proceed to either the PreCheck line or the standard security line for a physical screening. 

CLEAR kiosk touchpad
HOW TO USE CLEAR AT THE AIRPORT

HOW MUCH DOES CLEAR COST?

Unfortunately, adults can’t use the CLEAR lane for free; with one key exception, which we’ll get to in a second. CLEAR runs $179 per person per year, and children under 18 can use the lane free of charge when accompanied by an adult member. Additionally, you can add up to three family members age 18 years or older to a Family Plan at $50 each per year.

Now, for that exception I mentioned:

Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion members get complimentary membership as a perk of their status with the airline. But you don’t have to be a top-tier Delta elite to score a CLEAR discount: Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members and holders of a Delta SkyMiles cobranded credit card can score CLEAR for $109 per year, an annual discount of $70. And ANY SkyMiles member (it’s free to set up an account!) can purchase CLEAR for $119, or $60 off.

To learn more about the perks of airline status, and how it can help earn you extra frequent flier miles, visit the 52 Cities free resource library. Also, check out my points and miles masterclass.

Airport tips

DOES CLEAR MAKE SENSE FOR YOU?

For Delta Diamond Medallion members, enrolling in CLEAR for free is a no-brainer. But for everyone else, here are a few things to consider before making the investment:

  • Does your home airport have CLEAR? My two most frequented airports, Portland International Airport, my home airport, and O’Hare in Chicago, where my family lives, don’t currently have CLEAR, which is a big reason I haven’t so far personally seriously considered enrolling. However, even if your home airport doesn’t have CLEAR, enrolling can still make sense if you travel with enough frequency out of airports that do have it!
  • Do you often run into long lines at the airport? Portland International Airport and my last home airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in D.C., both have super-short security lines seemingly all the time, which is the another reason I haven’t signed up for CLEAR yet myself. But if you often fly out of busier airports such as Denver International, having a CLEAR membership could really move the needle in terms of the amount of time you can save. 
  • Does airport security stress you out? Whether or not you often run into long lines, if you’re someone who could benefit from a little more time at the airport or a little less stress, CLEAR could be a great solution. Upon enrolling, you’ll know you’re set up to move through the airport quickly, ensuring peace of mind between the curb and your gate.
CLEAR kiosk

I hope this post has answered your all your questions about CLEAR! Are you enrolled in CLEAR, or have you considered it? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! 

Save this post for later on Pinterest:

What is CLEAR? Everything you need to know
Everything to know before joining CLEAR
CLEAR - Is it right for you?

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