California Airport Security Law: CLEAR Membership Debate

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California Airport Security Law
California Airport Security Law

The California State Senate recently conducted its initial hearing on a proposed law that would require private companies offering fast-track security memberships, utilizing biometric identification at airport kiosks, to cover the costs of their own dedicated TSA security personnel. If enacted, this law could be implemented across nine airports in California.

As travel rebounds post-pandemic, airport crowds and queue lengths are increasing. For many, the $189 annual membership fee for CLEAR provides the opportunity to bypass most lines and access dedicated kiosks and security lanes at select airports.

However, critics argue that CLEAR doesn’t consistently deliver on its promise of enhancing the airport experience. According to Fullerton Democrat Senator Josh Newman, CLEAR merely grants members the privilege to jump queues.

California Airport Security Law
California Airport Security Law (Credit: CLEAR)

The question arises: Is the membership worth it? While skipping long queues can be crucial for some travelers, especially during peak times, the benefits of CLEAR may not be significant during non-peak hours.

Critics question why public assets should allow unequal access through services like CLEAR. Senator Newman suggests that CLEAR should cover the costs of its dedicated TSA agents, similar to Delta One at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Major airlines, including Southwest, JetBlue, Hawaiian, and United Airlines, have expressed concerns about the proposed law, fearing it could lead to increased airfares due to revenue loss. Currently, CLEAR operates in nine California airports, generating revenue and providing employment opportunities.

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