Marketplace Scratch Pad

No more speedy airport security

Scott Jagow Jun 23, 2009

The company that ran expedited security lines at 18 airports went out of business this morning. A statement on the Clear website simply says “Clear Lanes are no longer available.” It doesn’t say whether customers will get their $200 a year back.

More from USA Today:

The announcement is a huge blow to lengthy efforts by travel groups and Congress to ease airport screening for “trusted travelers” who clear a background check.

“I don’t see any future in Registered Traveler,” said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, an airline trade group that had opposed the program.

The economy obviously had something to do with Clear’s failure, both in terms of customers and financing. But the TSA also insisted that Clear customers go through the same airport security as everyone else, despite the background checks. That didn’t make the program all that appealing to many people — at $200 a year. The original annual fee was $100, but the company doubled it.

The company, Verified Identity Pass, was started by Court TV founder Stephen Brill. Brill left the company in March to pursue an online journalism venture. He’s trying to get people to pay for online content. Might be harder than getting people to pay for expedited security!

Still, based on the comments section of the USA Today story, a lot of business travelers thought the program saved them precious time. There’s also an element of class warfare in the comments — i.e. “What a sad day for the self-important, rich, and infamous. They will have to wait in line like everyone else.”

And that’s a good thing?

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