I was in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) last week to review the new Delta Air Lines Sky Club near gate G18.
When I approached one of Terminal 1’s two security checkpoints, an airport contractor helping direct traffic said to a group of us, “Don’t use the CLEAR line — you’ll regret it.”
Sounds pretty ominous, right?
I assumed she meant the line to use CLEAR was longer than the TSA PreCheck’s. That was the situation when I flew from Los Angles International Airport (LAX) the previous day. I waited several minutes to get “CLEAR”ed before being escorted past the PreCheck lectern.
Sure enough, I waited an extra few minutes at MSP in the CLEAR line — while the TSA PreCheck queue alongside us zipped past.
Do I regret using the CLEAR line (as I had been warned)? Nah. I wasn’t in a big hurry. I missed an extra few minutes of lounge time. Life went on.
But this isn’t just a one-off (or two-off, as it were). I’ve experienced this a couple of times at Harry Reid Las Vegas International Airport (LAS). In my experience there, it’s often faster to skip CLEAR and head directly into the TSA PreCheck line.
A Growing Trend?
Just like TSA PreCheck, the secret’s out about CLEAR: it can be a great tool to help speed you through security. I see far more people using CLEAR now than I did pre-pandemic.
CLEAR’s network has expanded to more airports (and stadiums) across the country. The added exposure surely helped the company add new customers.
Plus, some of the new customers might be a result of three American Express cards that come with CLEAR benefits.
The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, and American Express® Green Card members can receive up to $189 in statement credits each calendar when using their respective card to pay for an annual CLEAR Plus membership. (Enrollment is required and terms apply) So, if you have one of those cards, why not get CLEAR — when an annual membership costs $189?
Plus, airlines such as Delta offer discounts to their loyalty program and co-branded credit card members.
I noticed that CLEAR usually has only four or five biometric-reading kiosks in airports. Plus, it takes manpower to monitor the CLEAR line, operate the kiosk, verify customers’ identities, then escort them to their appropriate security line. The identification process is generally much faster at TSA PreCheck. If CLEAR had more kiosks and employees, it would likely improve. But one can hardly fault them when space and employees aren’t exactly easy to come by.
CLEAR is a great bet when the PreCheck line is long. But again, I’m starting to see faster PreCheck lanes than CLEAR.
What is your experience with CLEAR vs. TSA PreCheck lane speeds?
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