The developers of a new biometric scanning system that verifies the identity of passengers at airports are the first to admit that some customers like the idea of having their irises scanned because it’s so cool.
But the biggest advantage of Clear biometric scanning system, which now operates at McCarran International Airport, is the speed through airport screening lines. Company operators demonstrating the system at McCarran on Tuesday said most people could cross the security line in five minutes.
McCarran has become the 10th American airport to welcome Clear and its biometric scanning terminals. The units are located near the Terminal 3 checkpoint and checkpoints at Gates C and D and the Gate C Annex in Terminal 1. McCarran and company are working to install machinery in the area doors A and B.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the travel experience at McCarran and we had heard from the local business community wanting Clear to be here,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of the Clark County Aviation Department, which operates McCarran.
The base annual subscription fee for Clear is $179, but there are various discounts that can bring the cost down to $129 per year. Members can add family members for $50 per year each, and children under 18 are free.
Clear works differently at different airports, but at McCarran a Clear customer inserts a card into a kiosk, scans a paper or mobile boarding pass, and then gets the biometric scan, either a fingerprint on a swab or that scan of the cool looking iris. This process verifies the identity of the passenger, who is directed to a separate fast track for known travellers.
Clear employees are on hand to help you through the process.
Prospective customers can create a Clear account at an airport kiosk or at Clear’s McCarran office or start the process online. Customers must have two pieces of identification, usually a passport and a driver’s license, to open an account.
Charmaine Taylor, Clear’s New York-based vice president of operations, said 45 Clear “ambassadors” have been hired to help customers in Las Vegas.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak was among the local officials who welcomed Clear to McCarran and he was excited about the jobs the new business is bringing to the community.
“Economic diversification isn’t always about big companies moving to town with thousands of jobs, but if you can have multiple companies with 30, 40, or 50 jobs each,” Sisolak said.
Earlier this year, Clear signed a five-year, $2.6 million renewable lease with Clark County for airport space, along with a variable revenue share of up to $250,000 depending on the number of customers using the system at the airport.
Taylor said Clear works in tandem with the Transportation Security Administration and its pre-screening system and frequent travelers can benefit from both systems because they are operated differently at different airports. For example, at San Antonio International Airport, Clear customers have a dedicated security lane for themselves. At McCarran, TSA officials direct Clear customers to the best path available.
In addition to McCarran, Clear is available at airports in San Francisco and San Jose, California; Denver; Orlando; San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Hobby International and Bush Intercontinental airports in Houston; and in Westchester County, NY
The company is then targeting a startup at Miami International Airport.
Contact journalist Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. Find on Twitter: @RickVelotta