You'll Have to Pay More for This at Airports, Starting May 19
It matters at a time when snaking security lines could cause you to miss your flight.
Coming out of the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, demand for air travel is explosive. This major uptick coupled with staff shortages and other operational challenges resulting from COVID-related disruptions has created major headaches for air travel passengers, including snaking airport lines. Frequent travelers do have options to help mitigate some of the hassles, but the cost for one such perk is going up. Read on to find out what it is and whether you'll be affected by the change.
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Travelers can opt out of long security lines by paying into an array of membership programs.
Even when airport security lines stretch on and on, frequent travelers can opt out of the delays if they have pre-enrolled in certain membership programs that allow them to bypass the general-boarding lines. These include TSA PreCheck, the Transportation Services Administration's service for frequent travelers that requires a pre-interview as part of enrollment. The service is $85, or $100 when coupled with the Global Entry program for international travelers, and it's good for five years.
Another option is Clear, a program from a privately owned company that offers expedited security screenings at more than 50 U.S. airports as well as stadiums and arenas. This program uses biometric identification to expedite passengers' check-in. But the program is undergoing a change that will make it more expensive for passengers to use.
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The cost of Clear is going up for the first time in the program's history.
Beginning on May 19, the cost of the Clear airport membership service will go up. The new price of an annual subscription for everyone over the age of 18 jumps $10 from $179 to $189, according to The Points Guy. (Kids under 18 aren't required to have their own membership when passing through with adult members.) While the price hike might not seem huge, it's significant in that Clear has never before raised the price of its offerings in more than a decade since it launched.
If you're already a member of Clear, you won't be affected by the change right away: Existing members will continue to renew at the former price of $179 throughout 2022.
Some Clear memberships will continue to be free through partnership arrangements.
The highest status flyers on both United Airlines and Delta are eligible for free Clear memberships, through their membership in United's Premier 1K and Delta's Diamond Medallion programs, respectively.
Other frequent flyers are eligible for discounted entry into Clear. Delta Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members and United Premier Platinum, Gold, and Silver members can purchase the program for $109 per year. Any other SkyMiles and MileagePlus member can unlock access for the discounted price of $119 annually.
Credit card rebates and other special programs can make Clear cheaper or even free for some users.
If you're interested in using Clear, there are plenty of other perks available that will save you money. For instance, American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum Cardholders, as well as Centurion Cardholders, can all expect to receive an annual statement credit equivalent to the $189 cost of the program. (Even holders of the less-expensive American Express Green Card can get $100 in statement credit.)
Further, students can get Clear at a heavily discounted rate of $50 per year for up to four years. And families traveling together can save serious money by using the Clear family plan, which allows as many as three additional adults to link up with a primary member's account at an annual rate of $60 per year.
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