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 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 $99 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 $79 each year. And the best deal is for top-tier Delta Diamond status holders, who can get a membership for free.
Where is CLEAR Available?
Airports and professional sports venues currently offering the CLEAR service include:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Austin (AUS)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Coors Field (Denver, CO)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL)
- Houston (IAH, HOU)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New Orleans (MSY)
- American Airlines Arena (Miami, FL)
- Marlins Park (Miami, FL)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
- New York City-LaGuardia (LGA)
- New York City-JFK (JFK) – Terminals 2 & 4
- New York City-Westchester (HPN)
- Citi Field (New York, NY)
- Yankee Stadium (New York, NY)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Antonio (SAT)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- AT&T Park (San Francisco)
- San Jose, CA (SJC)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD)
- Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA)
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.