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Okay, this is a bit of a clickbait headline, but in my defense, that’s also the title of the article on Politico where I saw this news – Airport security line cutters are target of first-in-the-nation California bill. I don’t know about you, but when I first saw that headline, I thought California was introducing a bill to target people that were actually cutting airport security lines (similar to what I did one time in Hawaii). I thought that would be a bit unusual for a bill, since I didn’t think that was a huge problem, but I’m also used to bills being introduced for all sorts of silly things (especially in California :-D).

Removing or Limiting CLEAR from Airports

But after reading the Politico article, that is not what this bill is about at all. A pair of Orange County state senators from opposing parties are introducing a proposal critics say would ban the expedited security screening company CLEAR from state airports. The bill would require third-party vendors like CLEAR to get their own dedicated security lane or lose the ability to operate in California airports.

Interestingly, the major airlines (Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian) are all against this bill, while the union that represents TSA agents as well as the major flight attendants union is for it.

One Mile at a Time, Live and Let’s Fly and View from the Wing also both covered this story.

What is CLEAR?

CLEAR is a 3rd-party company that provides biometric screening at many U.S. airports. The exact way that CLEAR works depends on the security configuration in each airport. At my home airport of CVG, CLEAR has its own lane, and after you’re authenticated biometrically, the CLEAR representative takes you over to the TSA/Pre line, where you do cut in front of anyone who is in that line. At CVG, the Precheck line divides into two when you get up to the security screen, and I’ve learned to always stay left because the right lane, even if it LOOKS like it’s faster, always goes slower because you have the CLEAR line-cutters there 🙂

The Bottom Line – Should we ban CLEAR?

Newman (one of the bill sponsors) stressed that he’s “not trying to ban CLEAR and claims has no issue with concierge airport services. But he believes the CLEAR system is neither efficient nor secure.” which… I kind of agree with? I don’t have CLEAR personally but I have heard plenty of people with CLEAR say that now that a lot of people have it, it doesn’t really provide a ton of advantage. Again, at CVG, I’d say that both TSA/Pre and CLEAR zip through the line pretty quickly and there’s no real advantage to having CLEAR. I imagine that as that continues, if we didn’t have so many people getting CLEAR memberships “for free” with credit cards, you’d have a lot fewer members (of course, you could probably say the same thing about TSA/Pre).

What do you think about this proposal to ban CLEAR from California airports? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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