Skip Security Lines with CLEAR: Our Favorite Airport Time Saver
As the federal government shutdown drags on and TSA workers call in sick, travelers’ concern about wait times at airport security checkpoints is at an all-time high. And while TSA PreCheck is a great solution to cut down on wait times, there’s one option that might be even better: CLEAR.
Maybe you’ve seen the CLEAR kiosks and employees staffing dedicated lanes at your home airport. This security service promises the quickest trip through airport security at 27 U.S. airports and counting, along with some professional sports stadiums.
How does this program work? What does it cost, and is it worth it? We’ll lay it all out, including how to get a discount for being a Delta SkyMiles member, holding Delta Medallion status, or having a Delta SkyMiles co-branded credit card in your wallet.
What is CLEAR?
CLEAR is a privately run trusted-traveler program that uses both fingerprint and iris identification technology to confirm a traveler’s identity. After enrolling on their website, travelers can go to any airport offering the service to complete the registration process – which takes roughly five minutes.
Once you have been cleared at the CLEAR personal kiosk, an ambassador will escort you to the front of the metal detecting and baggage scanning lines depending on your TSA eligibility. This means that if you have TSAPreCheck, you will get escorted to the front of the PreCheck line. If you don’t, you’ll cut to the front of the standard TSA line.
So while CLEAR promotes itself as the ultimate time-saver, it’s not a replacement for TSA PreCheck. Having both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck is the most powerful tandem.
Because CLEAR authenticates your driver’s license or passport during the enrollment process, you never have to take your identification out when checking in through CLEAR. Just scan your fingerprints & boarding pass and you will be on your way within minutes.
What Does CLEAR Cost?
Annual membership in the CLEAR program is $179, which is a steep price to pay. While a handful of different credit cards offer free memberships in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, that’s not the case with CLEAR.
But there are easy ways to cut that cost in half. Thanks to a partnership between the two companies, there are discounts available for both Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus members and their elite status holders. That’s also why many of the airports that have CLEAR are Delta hub and focus cities.
As a part of this partnership, Delta offers the service at a discount for all SkyMiles members, who can join the program for a reduced rate of $119 each year. If you’ve got status with the airline or hold one of the co-branded American Express Delta SkyMiles credit cards, that price drops to $109 each year. And the best deal is for top-tier Delta Diamond status holders, who can get a membership for free. The same pricing tiers hold true for United members.
Where is CLEAR Available?
Clear has been rapidly expanding their footprint and there are now many U.S. airports offering the service. See the table below for the full list of airports in which CLEAR is available.
|Atlanta||Atlanta, GA||ATL||North & South Domestic Terminals|
|Austin||Austin, TX||AUS||Checkpoints 1 & 2|
|Baltimore||Baltimore, MD||BWI||Checkpoints A,B,C, D & E|
|Birmingham||Birmingham, AL||BHM||Main Terminal|
|Boston||Boston, MA||BOS||Terminal A|
|Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH||CVG||Main Terminal|
|Cleveland ||Cleveland, OH||CLE||Center & South Checkpoints|
|Dallas-Fort Worth||Dallas, TX||DFW||Terminal E|
|Dallas-Love Field||Dallas, TX||DAL||Terminal 1|
|Denver||Denver, CO||DEN||North & South Entrances|
|Detroit||Detroit, MI||DTW||North & McNamara Terminals|
|Fort Lauderdale||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||FLL||Terminals 1 & 2|
|Houston-Intercontinental||Houston, TX||IAH||Terminal A, North & South|
|Houston-Hobby||Houston, TX||HOU||Main Terminal|
|Las Vegas||Las Vegas, NV||LAS||Terminals 1 & 3|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||LAX||Terminals 1 - 7|
|Miami||Miami, FL||MIA||Checkpoints E & H|
|Minneapolis−Saint Paul||Minneapolis, MN||MSP||Terminal 1|
|New Orleans||New Orleans, LA||MSY||Concourse D|
|New York City-John F. Kennedy||New York, NY||JFK||Terminals 2 & 4|
|New York-LaGuardia||New York, NY||LGA||Terminals C & D|
|Westchester County||New York, NY||HPN||Main Terminal|
|Orlando||Orlando, FL||MCO||East & West Security|
|Phoenix||Phoenix, AZ||PHX||Terminals 2,3 & 4|
|Salt Lake City||Salt Lake City, UT||SLC||Terminals 1 & 2|
|San Antonio||San Antonio, TX||SAT||Terminals A & B|
|San Francisco||San Francisco, CA||SFO||Terminals 1-3, International Terminals A & G|
|San Jose||San Jose, CA||SJC||Terminal A & C|
|Seattle-Tacoma||Seattle, WA||SEA||Checkpoints 1-5|
|Washington, D.C. -Dulles International||Washington D.C.||IAD||Main Terminal & East Security Checkpoint|
|Washington, D.C.-Ronald Reagan||Washington D.C.||DCA||Terminals A, B & C|
There are even a number of American sports and event venues that offer CLEAR as a way to fast track your entry. The full list of venues is as follows.
|Sports Venue||City||Where to Access|
|SunTrust Park||Atlanta, GA||Chop House, First Base & Third Base Gates|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards||Baltimore, MD||Gate C|
|Progressive Field||Cleveland, OH||E. 9th Street Patio Gate|
|Globe Life Park in Arlington||Arlington, TX||First Base Gate|
|Coors Field||Denver, CO||Gates C & D|
|Comerica Park||Detroit, MI||Gate A|
|STAPLES Center||Los Angeles, CA||Figueroa Street Entrance
|Banc of California Stadium||Los Angeles, CA||Northwest Plaza & Northeast Gate|
|AmericanAirlines Arena||Miami, FL||Gates 1 & 2|
|Target Field||Minneapolis, MN||Gate 34|
|Yankee Stadium||New York, NY||Babe Ruth Plaza, Suite Entrance, & Gate 6|
|Citi Field||New York, NY||Jackie Robinson Rotunda & Seaver Gate|
|Madison Square Garden||New York, NY||7th Ave South Entrance|
|Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||Oakland, CA||Gate C & D|
|Oracle Park||San Francisco, CA||Willie Mays Gate & King Street Gates
|Avaya Stadium||San Jose, CA||Main Gate|
|T-Mobile Park||Seattle, WA||Home Plate & Left Field Entrances|
|CenturyLink Field||Seattle, WA||North Plaza & Southwest Entrance|
My Experience With CLEAR
I have been using the service since 2017 and I think it’s fantastic. It’s been available at my home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), and I use it on every trip I take.
While TSA PreCheck is an enormous upgrade, even those lines can still back up. So the beauty of having both CLEAR and PreCheck is that it allows you to cut to the front of the line. You can almost always count on the process taking less than five minutes from the time you enter the line until you’re through the TSA metal detectors.
In all, CLEAR takes the guessing game out of how long you’ll need to get through security. And with the partial government shutdown, that’s a growing concern. I haven’t had issues with CLEAR as it isn’t a government program.
As long as there are TSA agents working, I should still get through the line in five minutes or less.
We’re big fans of the CLEAR service but there’s no denying $179 a year is expensive. Luckily, even basic Delta SkyMiles members (which is free) can get it for only $99. We highly recommend the service, as it has saved us an immense amount of time in security lines. It will be interesting to see what Delta’s long-term play is with a CLEAR partnership. Will we eventually see CLEAR included with American Express co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards? We hope so.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.