New traveler program at SFO to 'Clear' busy security lines

A new security system coming to San Francisco International Airport is not unlike the FasTrak system for crossing Bay Area bridges. The Clear Registered Traveler program, which will enable travelers to get into separate, speedier security...


A new security system coming to San Francisco International Airport is not unlike the FasTrak system for crossing Bay Area bridges.

The Clear Registered Traveler program, which will enable travelers to get into separate, speedier security screening lines, was approved 5-0 by the San Francisco Airport Commission on Tuesday.

Program participants are issued a card with a chip containing their fingerprint and iris scan information. The cardholder can choose between using the fingerprint or the iris scan information to get through security.

"It provides predictability in time that people can spend in airport security," said program spokeswoman Cindy Rosenthal. "It typically takes under five minutes to get through security."

The service will cost users about $100 a year and applicants must pass a Transportation Security Administration background check. Approved applicants will be able to pass through Clear security lines at all participating airports.

A lease between the airport and New York-based Verified Identity Pass Inc., which operates Clear, is being finalized. The system could be available in every terminal by fall, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.

The San Francisco airport will receive 10 percent of the revenues generated by the system, Verified CEO Steven Brill said. The number of Clear security lines at each terminal would be based on passenger traffic at that terminal.

Nationwide, there are about 50,000 registered Clear users. Roughly 40,000 of those are from the Orlando, Fla., area, which is where Clear's service started in July 2005, Brill said. Most of the users are business travelers.

Officials at Verified expect the service at SFO to prove popular and say a lot of that business could be generated by word-of-mouth.

"Our projections are that over the first five years, we would get over 130,000 people," Brill said. "Between SFO and San Jose, we should have 250,000 in the Bay Area."

The Clear system is already available in five airports, including San Jose International Airport, and it will expand into airports in Newark, N.J., Albany, N.Y., and Little Rock, Ark., by the end of July.

The other airports that already have Clear include New York's John F. Kennedy, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington have expressed interest in the system, Verified officials said.

Oakland International Airport officials said they are looking at such a security screening system, and the final decision could hinge on whether there is enough space to implement it.

E-mail Mark Abramson at mabramson@dailynewsgroup.com .

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