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Private Program Lets Travelers “Fly” Through Airport Security

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
Ginger is the Senior Investigative Reporter of the CB...
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - If you attend amusement parks, you’ve probably heard of a fast track pass. This helps you get on the rides more quickly. What if you could do this on a plane?

Some private companies and the government are now trying to make the flying process easier for qualified flyers.

Clear is a private traveler program now at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

You’ll find its space-age machines in Terminal E where members can touch the screen or stare into a machine. Once fingerprints or iris scans are verified an automated voice says, “You are clear.”

Travelers move straight to the security check walking right in front of lines of passengers waiting to see the TSA agent. Clear members walk into a separate line, show a member card, put it into the machine and avoid the TSA agent all together.

“This just speeds me up and buys me a little extra time,” says Steve Schneider. Schneider is a frequent business traveler who joined clear several years ago.

“I’m not worrying about getting through a security line to catch a plane,” says Schneider.

We began our interview with Schneider while Ashley Swindell, another passenger, headed to the regular line. While we talked to Schneider, Swindell waited. Like many other passengers, she watched time pass staring down at her phone.

Once our interview ended, Schneider walked to the “Clear” line. There was no wait. A Clear employee verified his membership by glancing at his card. Schneider put his card in the machine, touched his finger to the screen, and soon heard, “You are clear.”

A Clear employee escorted him to the security check where he began taking his laptop out and preparing to remove his shoes.

Meanwhile, Swindell was still standing in the regular lanes near-by.

“He moved a lot quicker than I did,” she told us.

Clear is recruiting travelers in Terminal E. You’ll likely see Clear agents asking you to consider joining the program.

It requires some personal information including your social security number, home and business addresses, and the make and model of your car. The system also requires an iris scan or fingerprint. The biometric component is then linked to a chip-enhanced card.

Texas Regional General Manager Bryan Leonard assures travelers that this personal and biological information is safe.

“Identity and security is our entire company,” says Leonard.

“None of the personal information is kept here in the airport….All I can say is the privacy agreement lines all that out.”

Clear cost $179/year. You can add family member for $50. And children are free.

The government also has a fast track pass program. You may have heard or seen PreCheck lines at one of the 40-airports where it is now available to “select” passengers. TSA now says the program will soon open to all qualified travelers.

TSA’s Precheck program allows passengers who have passed a background check and submitted fingerprints to move through separate security lines.

Precheck, unlike Clear, also allows passengers to avoid other airport hassles. You do not have to remove your shoes or jackets. And you do not have to take your laptops out of your bags.

Precheck cost $85 every five years.

A TSA spokesperson says it is making the program available to “all” passengers at Washington Dulles and Indianapolis International Airports this fall.

She could not tell us when the program will be available to all qualified passengers at DFW Airport.

DFW Airport currently has PreCheck lanes in terminal A,C,D and E.

International travelers may consider Global Entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection runs this “fast track program” mainly for international flyers.

Travelers swipe their cards at kiosks and move through customs much more quickly than other flyers.

“Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and interview before enrollment,” according to globalentry.gov.

The site does say “…members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States.”

Global Entry requires a $100 non-refundable applicant fee every five years.

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