Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & Tech

July 18, 2018

Airport Security: TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry vs. Clear

You're running late for your flight, or traveling with cranky kids, and you see a snaking security line.

What to do? Grin and bear it — then promptly sign up for an expedited-screening program before your next flight.

Many travelers know about PreCheck and Global Entry. Now passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport have a third security program to consider: Clear.

Clear is a privately run program that debuted at Sky Harbor on Wednesday, July 11.

Sky Harbor, whose advisory board approved the addition of Clear last September, is the 25th U.S. airport to offer the service. It will initially be available at the four security checkpoints in Terminal 4, home to giant American and Southwest airlines. It will be added later to Terminals 3 and 2.

Clear has 2 million members and brags that you can complete the enrollment in five or 10 minutes. It's the priciest line-skipping option ($179 per year) and probably the least understood.

7 things to know about Clear

  1. Clear uses biometric identification. Instead of pulling out your drivers license or passport at the security checkpoint, you go to a staffed Clear kiosk, show your boarding pass and tap your finger or blink your eye to identify yourself. How do they know it's you? Your biometric information is stored electronically when you sign up.

  2. You don't skip all security lines, just the lines leading up to the podiums where TSA agents check IDs. Those are the often-ominous lines (including the PreCheck lines), that spook travelers as they approach the checkpoint. After you pass the Clear kiosk, you go straight to the screening area beyond the podiums.

  3. Clear members have to be screened like everyone else. Members go through the metal detector or body scanner and their carry-on bags are scanned.

  4. Clear members need TSA PreCheck if they want to use that screening lane to keep their shoes on and leave liquids and electronics in their carry-on bags. Otherwise, they must use the standard screening lanes. The company has said 70 percent of Clear's members also have PreCheck.

  5. Clear could be a boon for frequent fliers, especially in busy airports. During the holiday travel rush in Atlanta last year, a friend who was enrolled in Clear and PreCheck zipped through interminable lines while I stewed in the lengthy PreCheck line.

  6. Think of Clear in Disneyland terms: It's a MaxPass to TSA PreCheck's FastPass. Clear officials use this analogy: It's like using an ATM instead of a bank teller.

  7. Discounts are available. Members of Delta Air Lines' frequent-flier program receive reduced rates or free membershipbased on their status in the SkyMiles program, as do some Delta frequent-flier credit-card holders. SkyMiles members without status pay $99 a year.

Clear vs. TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

TSA PreCheck: This program is offered by the Transportation Security Administration. It offers a fast pass through security, subject to a background check and fingerprinting, at more than 200 U.S. airports. The cost is $85 for five years. Travelers get dedicated lines at security checkpoints, keep their shoes and jackets on and leave approved liquids and electronics in their carry-on bags. About 6 million people have PreCheck.

Global Entry: International travelers favor this program, run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It includes TSA PreCheck plus expedited immigration and customs processing for travelers flying into the U.S. after international travel. It costs $100 for five years and requires a background check, fingerprints and a valid passport or permanent resident card. More than 5 million people have Global Entry.


Copyright 2018 Gannett. All rights reserved. From https://www.usatoday.com. By Dawn Gilbertson, Arizona Republic.
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