TSA Announces It Will Flag Certain Passengers for Extra Screening
Travelers with Clear memberships will be required to take an additional step.
Before you jet set to your vacation destination, there's always one hurdle: airport security. If you're lucky, you're met with a short line and surrounded by like-minded travelers familiar with the proper protocol. But a stroke of bad luck may mean you're stuck waiting hours with infrequent flyers. Of course, it never helps when you're flagged by a member of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Most people are stopped due to a stray water bottle or oversized shampoo container, but there are other reasons TSA may pluck you out of line—and now, agents have yet another reason to select certain passengers. Read on to find out why TSA is ramping up screenings at airports nationwide.
Travelers can pay for Clear to enter a separate security line.
There are a few different options when it comes to saving time at security, including TSA's option, PreCheck, as well as Clear, which is owned by a private company.
For $189 a year, the latter option allows you to skip the security line entirely, as opposed to just entering a shorter line via TSA PreCheck. When entering the separate Clear line, travelers' identities are verified at a kiosk using biometric data. After that, they're then escorted to the front of the security line by a Clear agent.
Clear typically expedites the screening process and doesn't require passengers to take out a formal ID—but that's about to change.
TSA started making changes after a security incident.
According to The Washington Post, TSA recently sent a letter to Clear and airports that offer the service, informing them that "an increasing number of Clear members" will be flagged and required to present identification to TSA officers.
Following a security incident in July 2022, TSA began checking Clear members' IDs at random, but now, more customers will be affected. TSA didn't provide details on the security incident, but Clear told the WaPo that it was "the result of human error that the company addressed immediately."
TSA said this step is vital for everyone's safety.
TSA told Best Life that asking more Clear members for ID is important for the general safety of the aviation system.
"TSA is responsible for ensuring that all systems and programs, including those provided by private companies, meet requisite standards and will take necessary steps to ensure security needs are met," a TSA spokesperson said in a statement. "Accurate and reliable verification of passenger identity is foundational to aviation security and effective screening by TSA."
Clear told WaPo that it "will continue to deliver the superior and secure experience that travelers know, love and depend on."
Best Life also reached out to Clear for comment on the changes, but has not yet heard back.
Clear members are already feeling the effects.
While having your ID handy is second nature for the majority of travelers, WaPo spoke with a few Clear members who said the policy defeats the purpose of paying for the service.
"Now almost every time I travel, I'm asked for extra validation. It drives me nuts," Taylor Poindexter, a Clear member who previously verified her identity at a Clear kiosk without issue, told the outlet.
Congressman Bennie G. Thompson said that security "must always be paramount," even though travelers don't want to take too much time at checkpoints.
"It's clear that TSA needed to act to close this security gap," he said, per WaPo.
In response, a spokesperson for Clear said there wasn't necessarily a "gap" to address, maintaining that Clear "has an extraordinary security track record."