Is Clear The Big Secret To Getting Through TSA As Fast As Possible?

Waiting in line to go through airport security is somewhat akin to watching paint dry or grass grow. Even if you avoid all the airport security mistakes that can slow you down, anything that can speed the process along is appreciated. That's where CLEAR comes in, but whether it actually gets you through TSA faster than any other security option seems to depend on what airport you're using.


You may have figured out already if TSA PreCheck or Global Entry are better for you, but what about CLEAR? It's important to understand what CLEAR is to understand how it can (or can't) make your trip through TSA more efficient. While TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both government programs, CLEAR, which started in 2010, is a private company that lets you skip waiting for a TSA agent to look at your ID and confirm that it's you. Instead, with your CLEAR Plus membership, you'll have your identity confirmed via fingerprints and an eye scan at a kiosk, and then you go straight to getting your bags scanned. See you later, ID line!

Clear has advantages but not every traveler experiences them all the time

You still have to remove your liquids and laptop as you get your luggage screened unless you also have TSA PreCheck. So, with the powers of a CLEAR Plus membership and a TSA PreCheck Known Traveler Number (KTN) combined, that could be the quickest way through security — CLEAR can help you skip waiting to get your ID checked (which you still have to do with PreCheck, though it's faster than the regular line) and PreCheck can help you skip some of the hassle at your baggage goes through security.


CLEAR has now expanded its service to include allowing people to sign up for or renew TSA PreCheck at some CLEAR locations without having to wait for or make an appointment. That should make it easier and quicker for you to get access to all the ways that you can fast-forward your airport security experience.

While there is a clear theoretical advantage to always being able to skip the ID line with CLEAR, some CLEAR members have complained about still encountering long lines. One person posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, "The Clear lines are longer than the regular lines, with correspondingly longer wait times. Why should I pay to wait longer to get through airport security? The value just isn't there any more." Another person wrote, "What's the point of having TSA with @Clear if the line is longer than without both."


Clear comes at a higher cost than other screening options

Another thing to consider is that CLEAR is not at nearly as many airports as TSA PreCheck — it's in near 60 while TSA PreCheck is at over 200 airports. If your home airport isn't one of those five dozen or so CLEAR airports, the membership isn't going to do you as much good. Even if your home airport does have CLEAR, based on social media posts about problems at some airports with CLEAR staffing, it could be worth observing the CLEAR line the next time you're at the airport to see if it does seem shorter and to be moving more quickly as you decide if it's worth it.


Because you do pay more for CLEAR than for any other airport security screening option. It's $189, and you have to pay that every year — with TSA PreCheck, it's under $100, and it's good for five years. However, there are some credit cards and airline rewards programs, like United Mileage Plus and Delta SkyMiles, that will give you a discount on your CLEAR Plus membership.

All those things considered, the speed and efficiency of CLEAR may depend on the airport, and its higher price point could be off-putting for some travelers. Scope out the situation at your local airport for a bit before you take the CLEAR plunge.