Today I Made It Through Airport Security In 3 Minutes

This morning I flew from San Francisco to Detroit, and did something that I have not done in years. I made it through security in minutes, literally. From the time I walked into the airport terminal until the time I was past security was less than 3 minutes! How? A few months ago I signed up as a Clear pre-screened traveler. I had to provide multiple forms of ID as well as biometric data, and then had to wait while the TSA did a full background check. The process was supposed to have taken a few weeks, but actually took over two months. I received my Clear Registered Traveler card a few weeks ago, but none of the airports I flew through since then had Clear lanes. SFO is one of the airports that does (and even has Clear signup desks), and so this was my first chance to use the card. I deliberately arrived at the airport later than I usually would have, 40 minutes or so before departure (usually a really bad idea in SFO). I inserted my card in the Clear machine, presented my index finger for scanning, and was then escorted all the way to the front of the security lines. It was quick and simple and it just worked. The biggest problem with the system is that too few airports have Clear lanes. Indianapolis, Little Rock, Oakland, Orlando, Westchester, … it’s great that they have Clear lanes, but honestly, those are not airports I frequent. And so I held off from signing up for a while. But, now that San Francisco and San Jose and New York’s LaGuardia are on the airport list, with Atlanta and Washington Reagan coming online soon, I signed up. And if you frequent the supported airports, you should too. It’s well worth the $100/year. You can enroll here, and feel free to use referral code SCB28371.

7 responses to “Today I Made It Through Airport Security In 3 Minutes”

  1. Andy Matthews Avatar
    Andy Matthews

    Did you feel a little leery of providing your bio information Ben? I know that you travel a LOT and so this makes sense for you. I’m just wondering about the potential for misuse or something like that.

  2. Bjorn Jensen Avatar
    Bjorn Jensen

    Wow, they create an annoyance and now you can pay to get around it. I wonder what the next annoyance will be…
    Thank you america for screwing up flying 😛

  3. duncan Avatar

    Security guru Bruce Schneier has commented a few times on the failings of the Clear program. It’s great for getting you through security faster, it’s not actually great security.

  4. Barry Avatar

    Well if they try to speed up airport lines via the fly card <a href="">background check</a> things, then all that means is the terrorists would find a way to become part of that group and by pass all security, leaving us back at square 1

  5. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Andy, true, but like it or not they have all of that data already, I had to provide it when I got my green card almost 20 years ago, and when I became a US citizen in 2000. The only additional thing I had to provide that I did not provide previously was a retina scan.
    Bjorn, correct. It has nothing to do with security really. Think of it as paying a fee to use an express lane. If you get to use that lane enough then you save time, and time is money. If it saves enough time then it’s worth it, if not then not. And for me I think it will.
    Duncan and Barry, perhaps, but then again the TSA checks in general don’t do much for security, as proven by the fact that TSA still consistently fails its own tests. Someone intent on getting through will find a way, with or without removing shoes or providing retina scans.
    — Ben

  6. Petunia Avatar

    Well good for you, it’s always fun when security moves quickly…I hope that more and more airports will soon install this new security device…how does it work exactly?

  7. Andy Powell Avatar
    Andy Powell

    Now that this is finally in ATL, I signed up. I was told that if you are Marriott Platinum or Hyatt Platinum, you can sign up for a year for free. It’s definitely going to be worth it.

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