So I finally got to use the CLEAR travel security system in the US that I signed-up for earlier this year. I’d written before on how well the UK system IRIS works compared to CLEAR. I’m afraid that now having finally used CLEAR, it’s as bad as I thought.
NOTE (Sept. 20, 2010 : See Clear Airport Security Is Back, With All The Downsides about the resumption of the Clear program, after Clear closed on June 22, 2009. Also see my category on Clear for any further news about the program that I may have posted since this note.
With IRIS, you walk into a phone booth-like space, look into a mirror and less than a minute later, you’re done. You don’t need a special IRIS card or even your passport. Your eyes identify you as you.
Leaving San Jose on a flight last week, there was a short line to go through security — but long enough to make trying CLEAR worthwhile. I walked up and handed my card over — strike one, since after scanning my eyes and fingerprints, why do I need a card?
Next, I had to put my right ring finger down. Hard. Like really hard, to the degree it physically hurt, in order to get a good images. Yeah, I’m a big baby. C’mon — it wasn’t comfortable. And then the finger wouldn’t work.
Next to my “backup” finger, my left index. Again, a hard pressing down that hurt, but eventually an image was captured, and I was me.
So why then was I next asked for picture ID? All these biometrics, and they want my driver’s license? Apparently, the CLEAR folks are different from TSA — and TSA wants the picture ID checked.
Out it came, and then I was “CLEAR,” as the machine said. Of course, by that time, regular security probably would have been as fast. I did get marched quickly past the line, though, right up to the screening machine.
Overall, it seems a lot of work and especially inefficient compared to IRIS. With IRIS, no one mans the machine. CLEAR had at least three people watching over things. I suspect the system just isn’t up to snuff compared to the UK.
Still, if you want to try it, enroll here and remember to use my affiliate code of DSCAM1167602. Since I first wrote about the CLEAR discount affiliate program, I’ve had a number referrals. Amazing — each one is a month extra of CLEAR for free for me and the person enrolling. See my FlyClear Discount Code Benefits Everyone! post for more about that.