CLEAR Speeds Trip Through NY Airport Security

Westchester County Airport in New York is the latest addition and the first East Coast location to join the CLEAR family, enabling travelers to speed through airport-security checkpoints in five minutes or less, the company claims, with just the touch of a finger and scan of an iris.

By mid-November, travelers from the six airlines that service Westchester (American, Delta, JetBlue, United, US Airways and Cape Air) will be introduced to the concept, which uses biometrics -- fingerprints and iris scans -- to quickly identify travelers, says Nora O'Malley, director of public relations.

CLEAR operates in four other locations (San Francisco, Denver, Dallas and Orlando, Fla.). Although the details of CLEAR's future locations beyond Westchester were not disclosed, O'Malley said the company is in "serious talks" with airports on "both coasts, the center and Texas," focusing on those "that have tons of business and leisure travelers who would benefit from CLEAR."

Because the second-most popular destination from Westchester is Orlando, widely recognized as a popular travel spot for families visiting Disneyworld, O'Malley said it seemed fitting to connect the two dots and make it easy for travelers, especially those with children.

"We wanted to be on both ends and have parents not worry about screaming kids in the security lines," O'Malley said. "Our CEO took her family to Disneyworld. It makes the whole thing completely stress-free."

Patricia Chemka, deputy commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation, said the process of working with CLEAR was "good and efficient" and the county is glad to have the extra help during one of the busiest times of the year.

"Being able to clear the lines at our airport through security is something which is very important to us in terms of passenger convenience," Chemka said. "We're happy they're on board now, especially during the holiday season."

The biometrics behind CLEAR is a concept that O'Malley said is "no longer futuristic." Apple announced this week a patent granted for a two-step unlock home screen that utilizes fingerprint data. The concept is also in use in India, where biometric data is used to verify the identities of voters.

CLEAR is based in New York City and O'Malley said introducing it to more airports in the area "would be a dream for us, since we know that we have a big member base here."

More CLEAR kiosks could mean creating more private-sector jobs, which, O'Malley said, would give airports a steady revenue stream at no cost to taxpayers.

The privately owned company folded in 2009 after four years in operation and didn't warn its members or offer refunds. But nearly two years later, Caryn Seidman-Becker and Ken Cornick, both longtime investors and executives of the former Arience Capital Management firm, bought the bankrupt company and resurrected it at Denver International Airport after they discovered former CLEAR members were posting from crowded airports on Twitter how much they missed their beloved CLEAR lanes.

O'Malley said both owners saw an opening to "transform the entire travel experience" and "take security identity to the next level."

To join, register online, then visit one of CLEAR's enrollment centers to verify two valid forms of identification (such as a driver's license and passport) and supply fingerprints and iris scan data. A CLEARcard is created with a smart chip installed complete with personal information.

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