Back in line, suckers: Clear Lanes closes abruptly, angering fliers everywhere

UPDATE

Less than 24 hours after closing its service to move frequent travelers to the front of airport security lines, Clear announced on its Web site today that no, it won't be refunding any customers who bought $199 annual memberships.

And for any of its 250,000 customers worried about having their iris scans, fingerprints or other personal information sold or somehow ending up in another company's hands, Clear's Web site says: "Applicant and member data is currently secured in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration's Security, Privacy and Compliance Standards. Verified Identity Pass, Inc. will continue to secure such information and will take appropriate steps to delete the information."

A TSA spokesman told me that the agency doesn't "really have a dog in this fight" and said in a press release that 'TSA has no comment on Verified Identity Pass' announcement. The Clear program was market-drive, private sector venture, offered in partnership with airports and airlines in certain locations."

Verified Identity Pass couldn't negotiate credit to continue operating and closed service Monday night at the 20 airports it operated in across the country.

Clear -- the company that runs paid security lanes at 20 U.S. airports to speed its 250,000 members through airports -- is out of business.

Before the company's announcement that its "Clear lanes" would cease operation at 11 p.m. PST Monday, June 22, travelers were already complaining on the Internet that the traveler's best friend was out of business and that more people would have to wait in line again.

Most of the company's Web links were left with the simple message that Clear is ceasing operations and that its parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc., "has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations."

Clear members paid up to $199 for an annual membership for access to designated security lanes at participating airports nationwide. Some members paid three years in advance, and the company bragged of a 90% membership renewal rate.