Would You Pay To Avoid Long Airport Security Lines?

Tension between the flying public and airport security may be at an all time high, but travelers with some extra cash are now allowed to cut in line at one of the busiest airports in the nation.

Denver International Airport has just approved a security pass that allows fliers to skip to the head of the line after undergoing a one-time security screening. After submitting to a background check, iris scan and fingerprinting, travelers are issued a "Clear Card" that acts much like a Fast Pass at Disney--it allows the flier to make a pit stop at a special biometric scanning kiosk and then cut to the front of the security line.

This does not mean travelers carrying a Clear Card will bypass controversial screening procedures such as revealing body scanners or personal pat-downs. Fliers using the Clear Card will still have to go through the same procedures as the rest of the flying public--these travelers will just get to departing gates sooner. A Clear Card employee will also check the flier's boarding pass in the same way a TSA agent would.

Unlike a Disney Fastpass, the program at airports is not complimentary: a Clear Card comes with an annual price tag of $179. Still, it may be a worthwhile investment for business travelers or fliers with antsy kids, as children under 18 are covered at no additional cost.

Businessman Steven Brill originally launched the program in 2005 as a way for frequent travelers to avoid long security lines. The Clear Card made it to 23 airports before the company declared bankruptcy in 2009. According to ABC News, as many as 200,000 customers were never issued a refund when the trusted travel lanes were abruptly closed.

New York-based Alclear LLC is now operating the Clear Card program, and will honor all existing memberships provided the members renew their cards online. The first new Clear Card lane opened at Orlando International Airport, and the new owners hope to return to at least 12 airports by the end of next year.

Kate Hanni, founder and spokeswoman for a flier advocacy group Flyersrights.org told ABC News she believes these types of pre-screening programs should be expanded by the government.

"This creates a way for low-risk people to get though quickly and unclog the lines for the rest of the travelers," Hanni said. "We need to start looking at the people, opposed to the objects on their bodies."

Photo, kalleboo, flickr

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