Clear/TSA Pre-Check Integration And Updates on TSA Pre-Check Lanes Nationwide

A little over a month ago I commented on the impending integration of the Clear lane with TSA Pre-Check at Denver International Airport.  Clear, now in it’s second iteration, is a program that provides an opportunity to skip the line when trying to clear security in a small number of domestic US airports.  The knock on Clear is that it’s really just cutting part of the line.  For example, in Denver, once you get through the Clear checkpoint, you still have to select a security lane and stand in line with everyone else.  To compound this in Denver, the Clear lanes used to dump you out at the line for families traveling with children, not the expert traveler line.

Fast forward to the new setup, which I’ve used twice now.  Once you “clear” Clear, assuming you qualify for TSA Pre-Check, you walk 5 feet and are escorted into the Pre-Check line.  As you can see from the picture below, it’s a very streamlined process.

Updates on

Now, this is only for the South checkpoint, and I haven’t seen news of them expanding this format elsewhere, but it sure works well.  The current problem with Clear is the lack of airports it’s available in.  It’s currently only available at:

Orlando (MCO)

Denver (DEN)

San Francisco (SFO)

Dallas/Ft Worth (DFW)

Westchester (HPN)

The fee is $179 a year, though they appear to be running a special where you can pay $79 to try it for 6 months (they also ran a special during the holidays that was $49 for 6 months).  When Clear went away the first time, I still had time left on my membership (I was “lucky” enough to renew for multiple years right before they went bankrupt).  The new Clear honored my original renewal, so I haven’t had to pay anything yet.  Would I pay $179 for 5 airports?  Probably not, but that will depend on what happens with TSA-PreCheck, speaking of which…..

The NY Times is reporting that the TSA is expanding the Pre-Check program with something they’re calling “managed inclusion”.  Ever had a TSA agent walk up to you while you were waiting in line and ask how you were doing?  That was most likely one of their behavior detection folks trying to determine if you were a threat.  What they’re now proposing is if they don’t think you’re a threat, they might let you walk over to that empty TSA Pre-Check line and scoot through security faster.

The head of TSA, John Pistole is quoted as saying only about 5% of domestic passengers used Pre-Check versus the 30% they’d like to see.  I’d certainly like to see it remain at 5% so I can always get through security in 90 seconds, but I’m sure that’s not meant to be!  They’re only testing this in two airports (Indianapolis and Tampa)but if successful they plan to expand it soon.

What’s the bottom line here?  If you haven’t started using Pre-Check, you should.  If you’re a frequent traveler, you can likely sign up with your primary airline.  You can also sign up for Global Entry, which also gives you access to Pre-Check.

Michelle just got done with her Global Entry application.  I completed the online portion, which took about 30 minutes.  We scheduled her for an appointment at IAD.  Because of the uptick in Global Entry applications, they schedule a handful of people at the same time.  My wife’s appointment lasted about 25 minutes.  The first 23 minutes was waiting in the room for an agent, the final two minutes her interview.  Quoting Michelle, “The agent asked me what I did for a living.  When I replied “stay at home mom” he reached for the passport sticker and I was on my way shortly thereafter.”  Mickie used to be a teacher and is in the process of starting her own Pilates studio.  But, for the time being, her chosen career appears to be a shortcut for the Global Entry interview!

As an aside, I had our son with us at the airport while Mickie was in the interview.  I was flying out shortly after the interview, but I was in charge of keeping our son occupied.  While there are lots of fun things to occupy a 2-year old in an airport, my son chose a relic from my generation.


The phone banks kept him pretty busy for 30 minutes.  Go figure!

The other nugget from the TSA is that they’re considering a “Global Entry Light” where people can apply to be considered for TSA PreCheck in the domestic US for a small fee.  This would almost certainly spell the end of Clear.  PreCheck is pretty widely disseminated now (see the chart below), so it’s time for you to jump onboard.  Who wouldn’t want a 90 second security process where you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt or take your liquids or laptop computer out of your bag?

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 2.04.10 PM



  1. Thanks for covering this. Clear has always been a bit of a mystery–one of those Western things, it seems, and I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how it was different from TSA Pre-Check. I’m rooting for Global Entry/Pre-Check trumping it, because I’ve already got that! (And Clear is a lot more expensive, no?)

    PS: Is something squirrely with your RSS? I subscribe through Google Reader, but this is the first time in a week a post has shown up.

    1. Clear is definitely more expensive. Global Entry is $100 for 5 years, much more affordable then Clear. The benefit to Clear could be if there were a number of airports that did NOT have PreCheck but did have Clear (which is really not the case now).

      Unsure about the RSS. I’ll look into it.

  2. Clear program value at $179 is unclear until Pre-Check becomes more widespread. Does Clear have value if one has elite status?

    1. In some instances, I believe Clear does have value over elite status. Denver is a good example, since the elite security line is always backed up when I’m there, Clear not. But, if you qualified for PreCheck via your elite status, then the value is significantly diminished. However, if 30% of travelers did start lining up at the PreCheck lanes, then having Clear to get you to the front of the lane could be worth it. Doubt it at $179, though.

      Regards, Edward Pizzarello

      Sent from my iPad

  3. I wonder whether those of us with redress numbers (because we have been cleared of associations with individuals on TSA watch lists) qualify for Pre-Check.

    1. Some airlines list a space in your profile for a redress #, but I can’t find anything on the TSA site that confirms you can use a redress number so I suspect the answer is no. 🙁

      Regards, Edward Pizzarello

      Sent from my iPad

  4. This is a really cool concept in general but like you said it’s not in enough airports. In fact, the ones I use the very most are not currently on the list. Perhaps as it expands it will become worth the fee although I bet the fee will expand with new locations

  5. hate to admit I’m still a bit confused. I have Global Entry and LOVE IT for trips home from Europe…but am confused re the difference between CLEAR and Pre-Ck! Will Airline crews be able to use them? (This is why we need blogs like yours!) 🙂

    1. Airline crews are cleared for reduced screening, but in most cases in a different lane just for them. Think of Clear as your cut the line pass and PreCheck as “security lite”.

      Regards, Edward Pizzarello

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. Time to look through my various promotional offers to try CLEAR for free for N months and see which N is largest…. (I actually have a CLEAR membership from its previous commercial incarnation that was carried over for a few months by the reincarnation, but has since then expired.)

  7. In all honesty, if it can get me out of the body scanners I find it totally worth it. If that’s still a part of it I personally don’t see a benefit. That’s the most hated part by me

  8. All this and they still can’t seem to fix the most basic problem of PreCheck: It’s only on domestic travels. You don’t get a GE card because you never leave the country, you get it because you leave constantly.

    They must be the only ones surprised their numbers are low; their membership’s traveling patterns and their rules are laughably misaligned.

  9. I have some cards for a free six-month trial of Clear. But it doesn’t even seem worth doing that, if you’re not committing to it for good, because it still involves going and getting all your details recorded, which is a hassle that (for me) outweighs skipping the line on a couple of occasions. Or am I missing something?

    1. Zora, I think it all depends on whether they roll out more airports. It’s been about 90 days since the HPN announcement. Would have hoped for another one between now and then.

      Regards, Edward Pizzarello

      Sent from my iPhone

  10. Hi! You have the best coverage I see of this… yet many calls to Delta SkyMiles, reading & re-reading the TSA page, having been put through a PreCheck line once before other than at DIA when it had not arrived here yet, I’m still confused. Delta says I am “opted-in” aka volunteered for the program, but TSA decides. [they decided yes before] If you are “pre-screened” it is embedded in the boarding pass bar code (paper only? or app electronic too?) and you do not know until you reach the first TSA Scanner. The kicker being…at DIA, the TSA PreCheck line/gate is well before the entrance to the “choices” area 1) with the “chickens” or 2) with the “premiums” [which yes always seems longer than the “chickens” line at DIA]. So if I don’t know if I’m pre-screened, as TSA is supposed to be randomly determining per flight, even with its approved FFs, do I just walk to the TSA Gate and scan away, get accepted or denied, then act accordingly? Seems silly 50 people all at once might check to see if they are approved that flight or not…. like a price scanner in Walmart. Any advice much appreciated. I’ve flown about 250k miles in the past two years, so thinking I should be able to figure this out. :\

    1. Hans, I can understand the frustration. I’m currently dealing with this in regards to my wife’s PreCheck, which she earned through Global Entry. Did you qualify for PreCheck because of your status with Delta, or through Global Entry? The most common problem I’ve seen is that your full name is not being transmitted to the TSA in a fashion they can match up to your records (i.e. missing a middle name or initial). The first thing I would do is see what name you have printed on your passport and try changing how your name appears on future Delta tickets.

      There’s a slim chance you’re on a watch list but that’s less likely.

  11. Use Clear out of Orlando. I fly at least once a week and it is worth every penny. We’re a destination city and there can be a thousand cheerleaders, Brazilians, it baseball players in line on any given day.

    Our TSA Pre can back up significantly as it is merged with First Class lines or an Elite Flyer mom/dad taking their family of six. In a holiday week all bets are off.

    At MCO Clear let’s you cut to the front of either the Pre line, puts you in with airport employees, or the front of a random line. With Clear I average under fo ur minutes in the full security line. I leave my belt, phone, and similar items in my carry on. It’s worth every penny if you live in Orlando.

    The sign up process took about seven minutes. They scan your id, passport, and you do a fingerprint. It’s quick. Signing up and the subsequent security screen were still quicker than going through normal security.

    Clear in Orlando is worth every penny. If they got it in Atlanta it would also be worth it. I negotiated $159 for 16 months after I got a free trial for 4 months. I plan my travel to park my car about twenty minutes before boarding time. That means I arrive at 6am for a 645am flight.

    The only negative is the nasty looks casual flyers give you when you cut them.

    1. Orlando Traveler, I’ve experienced security in MCO and totally agree on how bad it can get (and quickly). I desperately wish Clear would sign up some more airports as I’m sure the TSA Pre lanes will get longer.

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