Is Clear Even Faster Then Regular TSA Lines Anymore?

Users say Clear Lanes are not the fast track through security checkpoints that they used to be

December 22, 2023 3:22 pm
Boston Logan International Airport on December 21, 2023
Boston Logan International Airport on December 21, 2023
Getty Images

Three weeks ago to the day, I was arriving at Newark airport for a quick trip to the Bahamas. As it’s technically an international flight (albeit a just three-hour one from New York), I arrived at the airport two hours early, though it still felt dramatic given I have both TSA PreCheck and Clear, which I can use in conjunction (at least at Terminal C). That said, what awaited me in the PreCheck/Clear was nothing short of chaos. I found myself wondering for the first time ever if I’d have had better luck in the regular TSA line.

This, per a new report from Travel + Leisure, was not an isolated case. In fact, travelers have been flocking to social media in hordes to share similar experiences. All of this off the back of a recent system upgrade, “NextGen Identity+” which ensures users a “faster, easier and more friction-free experience in the Clear Lanes and beyond.”

“I’ve been a paying Clear customer for 12 years, & today I canceled my subscription,” one X user tweeted. “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 anymore.”

“They are still processing their upgrade program, so it’s been a disaster the last several times through for me,” another responded. “I’m hopeful the delays improve but they seem to be understaffed. They always have open kiosks and like two [people] working them.”

For the uninitiated, Clear is offered through a private company and expedites the document screening/identification process using biometric technology. It costs $189 a year. PreCheck, by contrast, is offered through the government, expedites the physical screening process and costs $78 for five years. It’s also available at a greater number of U.S. airports than Clear.

Others went on to note that Clear, like PreCheck, is, at its core, a novelty — though, not an inexpensive one, comparatively.

“I used to love Clear but the past 8-10 times at the Austin airport, the Clear lines have been longer than PreCheck (which is cheaper than Clear). I probably won’t renew Clear unless I see improvements soon,” another X user noted.

“I realize Clear is a luxury but it’s one that I pay for,” Chicago TV host Matthew Rodrigues told T + L. “It’s been pretty disappointing showing up to the airport and realizing that the normal TSA PreCheck line is empty and the Clear line is backed up dozens deep.”

For its part, Clear credited the holidays. “Airports across the country are experiencing the busiest air travel period ever and Clear will continue to work as a force multiplier to verify identity, freeing up TSA resources to keep our airports and travelers safe,” a spokesperson told T + L. “Our top priority is helping Clear Members move through airport security safely and easily, and we have increased our airport staffing to assist travelers, meet travel demands and help our members speed through the Clear Lane during this holiday rush.”

Of course, the irony is that this is exactly the time of year in which members would be banking on Clear to help them circumvent the madness. Instead, it’s seemingly contributing to it.


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