New Security Card Could Make Flying Faster

ByABC News via via logo

June 19, 2005 — -- A simple plastic card could soon make traveling easier for frequent fliers.

After 9/11, U.S. airports dramatically stepped up security, which has resulted in longer lines and frustrating waits for travelers.

A card called "Clear" is supposed to change that. For an annual fee of $79.95, a company says the card will help clear the way through security at the Orlando, Fla., airport and a handful of other test areas.

"You will still go through a metal detector," said Steve Brill, chief executive officer of Verified Identity Pass, the company making the cards. "Your carry-on bags will still be X-rayed, but, for example, you are much less likely to be singled out for the secondary searches we all go through once in a while."

The pass will verify a traveler's identity by reading a person's fingerprints and a scan of their retina, which will be electronically embedded in the Clear card. To get a card, the traveler will have to go through a government background check.

Adam Gunther, who flies frequently for work, is already in a test program in Minneapolis, one of five around the country. He says the card has improved his travel experiences.

"For business travelers such as myself, where I am traveling on the road two to three days a week, it makes a big difference in the amount of time that I spend waiting in line," Gunther said.

For now, the program only lets him use it on Northwest Airlines at the Minneapolis airport. The Orlando program would cover all airlines. And airlines and passengers would like to see it spread.

"To expand it, we also need to make sure that there are real benefits," said Robert Isom of Northwest. "And by benefits, it is really how quickly customers can clear security."

Federal officials says there are a number of hurdles to clear and it could take years before a program like this becomes widespread. But in Orlando, the program is getting off the ground. Registration there begins Tuesday, and it could be up and running by next month.

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