a group of white and black machines

Airport security is rarely anyone’s preferred cup of tea and though many would likely lament the U.S. experience, it’s actually pretty great compared to experiences in many other large traveling nations. I’m looking at you, UK.

Why? We, the United States, know how to make products worth paying for and if you do pay, you can enjoy a really competitive experience without a lot of hassles found in other places. Global Entry is glorious and TSA PreCheck is very solid — CLEAR, too.

Now, there’s an idiotic plan to get rid of one of these paid opportunities, because charging for things some people won’t pay for is apparently totally wrong for all, and should be banned — with everyone suffering equally when going through airports.

Two state senators in California who clearly struggle to pay for subscriptions they could really benefit from have decided that because they’re cheap, everyone should be forced to suffer the same endless security lanes.

a green sign with white text

Proposal To Ban CLEAR: WTF?

The U.S. has successfully productized the TSA airport security experience, all while adding additional layers of security vetting. At the very least, it’s created a revenue stream for US agencies and travel stakeholders.

In a dream world, that’s somehow benefiting our travel experience, either as rents are paid to airlines and airports, or fees are utilized by government agencies.

Josh Newman and Janet Nguyen, two California state senators from Orange County on the opposite ends of the aisle agree that they should be able to pay for VIP fast tracks and still use PreCheck, but somehow CLEAR should be banned.

“It becomes a haves vs. have nots where those who can afford it jump in front of the rest of us. They even cut in front of TSA Pre-boarding pass travelers who have been screened by the TSA.”

Janet Nguyen, a co-sponsor of this (idiotic) bill

They really don’t like that people less cheap than they are, or who have shown value to an airline, are able to cut them. They need to be the most important government officials in any room.

Fast Tracks Provide Efficiency And Revenue

By agreeing to pay and be vetted, we get to keep our laptops in our bags and keep our shoes on and separate from the masses, who for the most part could totally take part too if they invested any time. It’s a nice trade that I’m happy to pay for and it helps me to enjoy more time at home before a flight.

As noted, airlines and airports make revenue from allowing companies like CLEAR to operate, and it actually helps to free up resources for other TSA lanes.

a group of white and black machines

In recent years, CLEAR, a private company came along doing just that. CLEAR provides an additional layer of opportunity, where you can effectively pay to skip to the front of the TSA line and have your ID verified even more securely than the way the TSA does with a standard ID document, by using retinas to verify.

It’s a choice, and for many it’s been one worth paying for. I pay for CLEAR. It’s the skip the line on top of the skip the line. That is, when it works.

Sadly, the CLEAR airport experience is totally hit or miss these days and I’ve actually had superior screening times by just going to TSA PreCheck, because the CLEAR lanes are often understaffed and full of people who don’t know how to work the machines properly, thus slowing things down.

I Value The Choice And The Additional Security

Even with some hit and miss experiences using CLEAR, I value the choice of having opportunities to pay to expedite my journey or add simplicity. I value not pulling my wallet out to verify my identity.

Maybe it’s just me, but I also feel better about my retinas being matched than believing that every TSA employee is heavily scrutinizing ID documents against their bearer. It’s been made perfectly clear by the TSA that they’re happy with this too.

What’s comedic about this latest stunt is that it’s really just a CLEAR hit job from these two state senators.

They like other VIP opportunities, just clearly not CLEAR. They have no problem with airlines having business class lanes, or TSA having PreCheck lanes.

If they really hate CLEAR so much, they should try to set up a competing entity and use their government contacts as a go to market strategy, rather than wasting taxpayer dollars on idiotic proposals to allow freedom of choice opportunities in the travel experience.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The travel bloggers are the wokest on the planet. That’s really rich of YOU to accuse THEM of being woke.

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