CLEAR Is Expanding To LAX — Is It Worth Signing Up?

Perhaps the greatest general innovation to come to the airport security experience the past few years is TSA Pre-Check, which allows eligible travelers to have access to a special lane where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their laptops or liquids out of their bags.

TSA Pre-Check is available to those who register specifically for the program, as well as those with Global Entry or NEXUS. Furthermore, some people who don’t register are still randomly given access to the checkpoint.

When TSA Pre-Check was first introduced it was especially awesome, since not many people had access to it. However, nowadays it feels like almost everyone has Pre-Check access, to the point that Pre-Check lanes can sometimes be longer than the normal screening lanes.

So that’s where CLEAR comes into the picture, which is essentially expedited expedited security. šŸ˜‰ CLEAR has been around for years, though I’ve never taken much interest in it… until now.

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is an independent company that has worked with the TSA to set up a special experience forĀ their members. CLEAR members show up at the airport and go to a CLEAR lane, where they scan their fingerprint and then they’re brought by a CLEAR associate to the very front of either the TSA Pre-Check lane or the general security lane, depending on what they’re eligible for. There’s no ID required.

So not only is it more convenient not to have to take out your ID, but you get to cut the Pre-Check lane.

What airports have CLEAR?

One of the reasons I haven’t gotten CLEAR up until now is that it wasn’t available at many airports I frequent. I fly in and out of LAX frequently, and it’s worth noting that CLEAR has just become available at LAX. CLEAR is now open at Terminal 2 & 3, and is expected to expand to other terminals in the coming days.

Here’s the full list of airports with CLEAR:

How expensive is CLEAR?

A CLEAR membership costs $15 per month, or $179 perĀ year. Furthermore, CLEAR has a special partnership with Delta:

  • Delta Diamond Medallion members get a free CLEAR membership
  • Delta Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members, as well as those with Delta’s co-branded credit card, get an annual membership for $79
  • Delta SkyMiles general members get a membership for $99

Those are some significant discounts on the cost of a membership.

Is CLEAR worth it?

I’ve been going back and forth on this, and am curious what you guys think. In addition to having to pay to enroll in CLEAR, you also have to go to an enrollment center to complete enrollment, given that they need your fingerprints, etc.

On one hand I’m tempted by this, since it means you’ll never have to wait again at security for airpots with CLEAR. However, the catch is that many airports, and at a minimum many terminals, don’t have CLEAR. If this were everywhere, it would be a no brainer. However, CLEAR isn’t available at most of the major terminals I typically fly out of.

Furthermore, while Pre-Check waiting times are longer than they used to be, I’m almost always through within 10 minutes or so. Is it worth getting a membership that cuts wait times at some terminals sometimes? I’m not sure.

To those of you who are CLEAR members, what has your experience been? Anyone tempted to sign-up now that LAX has been added as a CLEAR airport?

Comments

  1. You should totally get it. Everyone has TSA Pre so sometimes the regular line is shorter. CLEAR will save you about 20 mins every time you goto the airport. For you this is hours and hours of savings each year. I absolutely love CLEAR—no line–and it puts you at the front of the TSA line. Get it!!

  2. Let me say a bunch of contradictory things and then you can decide:
    – the enrollment process was fairly trivial, done at the airport or at the Skyclub. Not nearly as involved as Global Entry enrollment
    – I’ve used it 5-ish times and never saved any time with it
    – It’s really fun to be “special” again
    – Not sure I would have paid for it if I wasn’t Delta Diamond
    – The fingerprint thing kind of freaks me out as a near-germaphobe
    – they can’t possibly stay in business, can they?
    – can you really be THE “Lucky” and not have Clear????

  3. Lucky, you don’t have to go to an enrollment center ā€” you pre-enroll online, and then the retina scans/fingerprints are done right at the start of the CLEAR line at the airport. Takes 2 minutes.

  4. I average 140 K a year combined and without a doubt Clear works where it is available. Well worth whatever one pays which varies on what airline or card you have. I remember once looking a long TSA line in MCO I breezed almost non stop through, that one time paid for it. Yesterday coming through SEA again blew right through and had people in the TSA line giving me dirty looks and if one ones SEATAC lines can be bad

  5. Another thing to consider, when I was at SFO the priority lane right next to the pre-TSA lane was significantly shorter, but I didn’t want to have to take off my shoes, etc. Turns out, though, those passengers who were pre-TSA and used the priority lane got diverted automatically to the front of pre-TSA. That actually makes sense to me as TSA employees want passengers to move along through security as fast as possible. With that in mind, I wouldn’t purchase CLEAR.

  6. CLEAR is a lifesaver for me at DCA, IAD, ATL and SFO. With CLEAR, I can leave my house in downtown DC 50 minutes before departure with confidence–Worth every penny. Flying out of LAX T4 today, wish it was there now!

  7. Absolutely worth it. With a clear airport and pre it is almost a guarantee you are five minutes or less. DEN is my home airport and it really can save you. Cannot wait for this to come to LAX.

  8. I was an original member of Clear back in 2006 (?) and was crushed when it went away. Now that it’s back, the $15/mo is like dropping a penny on the street for me. Being able to get through security in under five min (max) at SFO every week is worth a lot more than $15/mo. With Denver, DCA and LAX….I’ll be even happier. Now if we could just get Terminal 8 at JFK and ORD….

  9. Gonna stick with Global Entry (Precheck). If I notice the CLEAR lanes are that much better it may be something to consider but as of now, Precheck works just fine for me.

  10. I’ve actually found airport security lines to be much shorter now than in years past, and I don’t have any special access capabilities. I usually seem to wait about 10 minutes and the lines move pretty quick. Works for me.

  11. Agree with Jeff. I’m based at MIA and have PreCheck, and can’t remember the last time I waited more than 10 minutes at the security line.

  12. I have Clear ad a diamond so it was free. I used it at JFK and the Clear lady took my bag and walked me to the TSA agent, then past about 10 people waiting in line for the X-ray and put my bag on the conveyor in front of everyone. It was a first for that, usually they just leave after TSA checks you are Clear. Saved me about twenty minutes at least. But I have had it for over a year and used it maybe 6-7 times since I fly out of lots of smaller airports. Not sure I would pay for it but having it sure is nice.

    But this is obviously a paid advertisement for Clear and I am sure you already have a free membership for all the OMAAT staff anyway for this post.

  13. I never have to wait more than 30secs to get through ID check at TSA Precheck, so for someone who doesn’t have an elite status at Delta, it pains me to pay $100 per year for something I don’t value much, even with the addition of CLEAR airports. But it may be useful for you so you can review it for us.

  14. It sounds worth it if it is free; otherwise, I have never seen where it would save me time. I fly out of MCO weekly and have never had to wait more than 5 minutes to get through pre-check. MCO is largely a tourist destination, so pre-check is underutilized, but it doesn’t seem much busier at most other airports I have been through. The few exceptions are IAD, DEN, and SEA where everyone and their kid has pre-check.

  15. First – for those without pre-check (!), you get line jump too. Also, as commented above, you can use it when you finish enrollment.

    I had the first version of CLEAR (2008~) and at IAD, it meant employee line. When they came back online (new company), it took a couple years though were at airports I regularly used (IAD, SFO, etc.)

    So…DO IT!!! It is literally one of the best features – quick, deal with CLEAR agent up to belt and some airports (like MCO, sometimes SFO, and I’m betting LAX) will save tons of time.

    At $79 for many people on this site, it is worth that in just a couple to a few uses.

  16. I just finished a 3 month free trial with CLEAR. It does save time when lines are long and if it’s available. However, I personally dont fly often enough to justify even the discounted $99 per year.

    I find CLEAR to be absolutely worth it if you’re frequently flying from airport terminals that have it.

  17. Also, I like that it’s independent of the airline you’re flying.

    I have TSA PreCheck but on an American ticket where I’m crediting to Alaska, preCheck never shows up and it’s frustrating.

  18. It has been a while since I encountered a long security line. Pre-check is almost always open and it never takes more than 10 min to get through.

  19. No one else should get CLEAR, its not worth it, please everyone just stick with Pre-Check šŸ™‚

    Seriously though when Pre-Check first came out it was amazing but over time more and more people, including lots of clueless travelers who don’t understand the benefits of PC and begin to take off shoes, take out laptops etc, and now in some airports (SEA for example) the PC line can get stupid long. Being able to walk past the 40+ people in Pre-Check using the CLEAR lane right to the front is worth every penny. =

  20. I am half-way through a 3 month trial right now and I am seriously considering paying for the year. I was honestly not “sold” until this Monday morning when I was running late and got to the airport at the published boarding time (which we all know means boarding started 10 mins prior to that) and the Pre-Check line was incredibly long – through with CLEAR + Pre-Check in literally 5 mins and made it to the gate with time to spare. It comes to $8.25 a month with the Delta “general member” discount – that $8.25 was worth saving me that time on Monday alone.

    At the very least you should sign-up for the 3-Month trial – no blogger has really done the program justice. You could provide some truly solid data and thoughts.

  21. Using ATL now means CLEAR is very useful. Add TSA to it and I’ve easily jumped 30-50 people in line(with the usual dirty looks).
    It’s very efficient at DCA, LAS and SFO as well.
    Less time in line is ALWAYS a good thing.

  22. As a TSA Pre person and at the risk of sounding like a broken record…I really don’t understand how CLEAR is able to pay to have customers cut in line at a government checkpoint. I’d like to know how much CLEAR pays the TSA to cut in line?
    Maybe they can expand CLEAR to the DMV and Sport Arena, Concerts, Traffic Jams.

  23. @DaninMCI line control up to the ID checkpoint is the responsibility of the terminal operator…not TSA.

    Clear is already at some stadiums as well.

  24. Please don’t get CLEAR- just stick with Pre-Check. It really sucks to jump to the front of PreCheck queue and bypass rush hour lines at most major US airports.

  25. Please join it and review it. I never knew anything about Clear (other than seeing them at a lot of airports, and I never knew they could “enhance” pre-check; I just thought (wrongly, it turns out) that they competed with pre-check.

  26. CLEAR isn’t at enough of the airports that I regularly use. I’ve timed how long CLEAR vs. Pre took at the few airports I use, and I’m sorry but saving 3 minutes (on average) just isn’t worth it to me.

  27. In my case, CLEAR isnt anywhere I fly regularly or at my home airport for that matter, so I’ll give it a miss . I would be interested in reading a review if you do do it, though.

  28. Is there any plan for CLEAR at Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX? I usually only fly International flights so if it can’t be used for those, it won’t be of interest to me.

  29. I signed up for CLEAR only because it was free (Delta Diamond). Doesn’t do any good flying out of my home airport (STL). But going in and out of MSP, there were two times where the Precheck line was 30 minutes long, and I went into CLEAR, and poof, through security. So either CLEAR is worth it, or they are giving away free too many Precheck clearances.

  30. I was one of the original members of Clear. Heartbroken when they closed. Then happy when they reopened. But then came TSAPre and I regretfully cancelled my membership. Oh those early days of TSA Pre – just a few folks being involved. Now at SFO the Pre line can be longer than the regular TSA line. I rejoined Clear and am loving it

  31. I’d love to get Clear.
    They want a social security card for enrollment (or so they told me); my wife doesn’t have one (German);
    pity!!

  32. @DaninMCI I came here to ask that same question. A couple weeks ago I noticed for the first time a CLEAR person cutting in front of my Precheck line at BWI.

    @Franklyn Thanks for that answer! I couldn’t figure out why TSA would give such a significant benefit to Precheck’s “competition.

    Thank being said, the Precheck lines rarely take more than 5 minutes do I’m unlikely to sign up for CLEAR right now.

  33. Clear has been worth it for me. I regularly transit between TPA-ATL most times returning on the same day. Afternoon weekday TSA-Pre lines in ATL are 20-30 minutes or more. With Clear I’m through and headed to the gates in under 5 minutes. And yes, one gets dirty looks every single time.

    It really boils down to one’s flying patterns.

  34. I think you should get it if you frequent the airports that are listed, but as you do a lot of your traveling outside of the United States, I do not think the $79 is worth it.

    The time that you spend to set up your Clear account such as dealing with your background check, ID, fingerprint, etc, pretty much balances out with the time that you spend standing online.

    Also, much like what has happened with TSA Pre Check and what has happened in many airline lounges in the US these days that all kinds of credentials also get you the access, what will happen when too many people have Clear? The TSA may have to open a line for Clear members only? What I mean is that now Clear is beneficial because few people have it, but consider what will happen when more people have it.

    Also, consider other related questions such as what will happen when Clear has a competitor? – It’s clear that they are partnered with Delta as of the mention of Skymiles, BUT what about one that is partnered with other alliances. Then, there will be competition.

    Bottom line – It’s kind of half of one and half of another and isn’t really worth it.

  35. I have CLEAR and I LOVE it. For those wondering about non-US citizens, yes you can get CLEAR. My spouse has a green card and is a CLEAR member.

  36. Totally worth it, especially for people who don’t have or are not eligible to apply for pre check (I’m holding h1b visa – not eligible to apply for pre check). Clear helps me cut the line and save huge time (extremely useful at LGA/JFK and ATL when priority lane long as hell).

  37. Does anyone see the hypocrisy here? Pre-9/11, airport security was private. Post-9/11, the TSA was created to get rid of the inherit problems with private security (i.e., who is responsible, how is audited, employee turnover because of low-pay, etc.) Global Entry and Pre-Check are “pay-extra” government services. Now, CLEAR is a private, paying service to get improved access to government provided service.

    So, here are the contradictions.

    1) TSA is a taxpayer-funded governmental agency but you have to pay extra in order to be a little more equal than your fellow travels (i.e., get the TSA service to function correctly for you).
    2) TSA was created to solve the problems with private security services but now a private company has come up with a sort of “line-cutting service” to the TSA checkpoints in the name of “security”.

    Go figure.

  38. But how will it be in 2,3,4 or 5 years? Will there be a super-clear lane getting you to the front of the clear line and subsequently to the front of either TSA or Pre lines?

    Rather than to have people subscribe to a series of programs, wouldn’t it be nice for once if the TSA changed their rules so that screenings can be accelerated and to have enough lines so that nobody has to wait too much?

  39. TSA-pre, CLEAR, Nexus, GlobalEntry, ESTA, younameit… – when are you Americans realising how fucked up your immigration and security theatre is? Nowhere in the world do I need any of those numerous of systems and signups and more pre-payments and subscriptions and I can still like a normal human being enter and exit a country.
    Why on earth do you believe you all need this and that this is perfectly normal? Instead of just organising this right and hiring enough employees, who are educated enough to man stations of entry and exit.

  40. In some airports that have Clear, it is only in one terminal, and that terminal may not be convenient. My worst experience was in IAH where I went to the terminal that had Clear, only to find that it leads only to non-Pre-Check TSA, and they recommended that I just go to the regular Pre-Check lane. So in addition to only being in a limited airports, even in the airports they are in, it isn’t always useful.

    90% of the time Clear saves no time at all. The claims that it saves 20 minutes or only takes 5 minutes are largely unsupported. Usually it just skips the ID check line and usually the ID check line for Pre-check isn’t that long.

    But every once in a while it saves a lot of time – when for whatever reason there is a long line to get to the ID check desk. If you are running late that one time may be worth it.

    But even when I had Clear, if there was no line at the ID check, I just went into the Pre-Check line because it is actually somewhat less hassle to just give your BP and ID to the TSA agent than to deal with a Clear employee at the finger print kiosk, which requires the BP, and then be escorted to the TSA agent who often looks at the BP again. That’s not an improvement or savings.

    TSA clearly has an ambivalent relationship with Clear and doesn’t put any value on their pre-screening… which is why you can have Clear and still be sent to regular screening.

  41. @Carl —> I have no doubt that CLEAR and TSA have “issues,” but I have *never* experienced what you describe at ANY airport where I have used CLEAR — that is, a) having to show my boarding pass and/or ID to a TSA agent after having been “cleared”; or b) having the CLEAR agent lead me to a “non Pre-Check” line. It’s just never happened to me: I’ve always been escorted completely past any and all TSA screening agents straight to the Pre-Check line to put my carry-on thru the X-ray machine.

    Now then, I’ve had a knee replacement. For that reason, I need to go through the scanner, not the metal detector. At some airports, notably SFO T2, the Pre-Check lane does not have a scanner. In those instances, I go straight to the metal detector (walking past those fellow Pre-Check passengers waiting to go through), tell the agent I need to go through the scanner. He/she calls another agent over who escorts me through other lines to the scanner, tells me to put my bag on the X-ray “ramp,” leads me past everyone standing in line for the scanner, tells the agent on the other side of the machine that I am “Pre-Check” and I walk right in . . .

    My wife and I signed up for CLEAR the very first month it arrived at SFO, and we wouldn’t dream of not renewing it. For you, however, it’s “clearly” a matter of YMMV.

  42. Since Pre-Check is expanding to so many international airlines, CLEAR is becoming less useful. It used to let me jump the regular TSA line for airlines where Pre-Check wasn’t available, and was as such VERY helpful.

    I’m still very happy with it though. More often than not, the regular Pre-Check line isn’t long enough to matter. Sometimes it is … especially when there are major travel interruptions, and everything goes to hell. It also saves me from needing ID, reducing the amount of juggling I’m doing at security.
    It essentially has made going through security a constant. I never need to worry about the line being long, and it’s made it more fun for visiting things like the Centurion Lounge at LGA (land-side).

    You also don’t need to provide an iris scan.. they offered me it, but most of their terminals even are just fingerprint-only now. Enrollment just consisted of confirming payment, entering in basic details, and then getting a series of prompts to confirm your identity where it does things like list 5 phone numbers or addresses and ask which one are you associated with. Took under 5min.

  43. The only concern (IMO) is the privacy / convenience pay off.
    You are handing over your bio data to a private company. The data is stored electronically. How comfortable are you handing over this data for the right to cut a line.

  44. Why don’t your articles have a DATE? no one knows how old or relevant this information is.

    Thanks

  45. @Andrew —> Uh, look at the headline again . . .look right below it.

    CLEAR Is Expanding To LAX ā€” Is It Worth Signing Up?
    JUNE 22, 2017 BY LUCKY 48

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