Nov 30, 2010 10:44 PM by Jeannette Hynes
Security wait times? Forget it. If you're willing to pay, one company says you can get through security at Denver International Airport in five minutes. The CLEAR program is back in business after the Transportation Security Administration gave the company the green light.
Here's how it works: Registered members go through their own line at DIA security for a document check, done by the New York-based company Alclear LLC. The company uses an encrypted card that holds the member's iris scans and fingerprints on the card's microchip. When a member goes through the line, he shows his boarding pass, photo id, and card. He then has his eye or fingerprint scanned, and if everything matches, he's on his way to the TSA screening.
"If I lost this, you couldn't use it. It's a secure identification. There has to be a match on card," explains Caryn Seidman-Becker, CLEAR's Chief Executive Officer.
"I have the CLEAR. I have the CLEAR card," says a joyful Victoria Heider. "It is worth it."
Heider is one of an estimated 20,000 people who regularly use DIA and signed up for the original program in 2008. In mid-2009, the company went bankrupt and Alclear bought the business from bankruptcy court.
A yearly membership is $179. News First 5 asked travelers at the Colorado Springs airport, who have also flown through DIA, if that amount was worth it.
"Nah, my time's not worth that," says Monica Teff.
"You just don't know how much you're going to spend up there. And with people rushing around, I can easily see where $179 would save me a lot of grief later on by making sure I made my plane," says Terry Fjeld.
CLEAR Card members still have to go through the same TSA security checks, but they have a designated line. To sign up, people have to bring two forms of identification and go through a secure check. CLEAR employees also receive training from TSA.
"For some people, it's about predictability, knowing that they'll get through security in a certain period of time, which should be five minutes or less. For some people, it's about not having to wait in line with small children," says Seidman-Becker.
So far, the CLEAR registered-traveler program is running in Denver and Orlando with plans to expand to other major airports soon.