Frequent fliers get in the Clear; Registered traveler program will begin at airport this summer

COLONIE - Employees of New York City-based Verified Identity Pass Inc. were looking over the Albany International Airport terminal Tuesday as they prepare to roll out their Clear registered traveler program here this summer.

Allison Beer, senior vice president of corporate development, said the biometric equipment has already been purchased and an enrollment station will be operating sometime in July.

Frequent air travelers who pay an annual fee of $99.95 and agree to undergo a background check by the Transportation Security Administration can take advantage of shorter wait times at participating airports. Travelers can apply online at http://www.flyclear.com. At the Albany airport, regis tered travelers will use a dedicated line to reach the checkpoint itself, although they will then pass through the same security screening as other travelers, said Paul Varville, the TSA's federal security director at Albany.

"We still pull out laptops and they still have to take their shoes off," he said of the screening procedures. So far, the TSA hasn't approved a shoe scanner that Verified Identity Pass hopes would let passengers keep their shoes on.

Registered travelers will carry an identification card containing biometric information - a fingerprint or iris scan - that will verify their identity at the checkpoint. The card can be used at any airport with a registered traveler program.

Albany was one of 20 airports nationwide chosen for the pilot project to provide faster processing for business travelers who often faced additional security checks because they traveled at the last minute and changed plans.

Registered traveler lanes are already operating at airports in Cin cinnati, San Jose, Calif., Indianapolis, Orlando, Fla., and at terminals 1, 4 and 7 at Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

In addition to Albany, the Clear program plans to set up lanes at airports in Little Rock, Ark., Toronto and at Newark (N.J.) International Airport's Terminal B.

Beers said nationwide enrollment stands at 45,000, but she declined to say how many Capital Region travelers have applied to participate.

Verified Identity Pass expects to spend $2 million to get the program operating at Albany, John O'Donnell, the airport's CEO, has said. The airport expects as much as $150,000 a year in revenue.

The company will set up an office in the airport's former barber shop, airport spokesman Doug Myers said. A kiosk will be set up in the terminal's ticketing area.

Eric Anderson can be reached at 454-5323 or by e-mail at eanderson@timesunion.com



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