Airport FastPass 'Clear' Shutting Down

from the not-so-speedy-any-more dept

I have some friends who have used Clear, the "verified passenger speedlane" for frequent travelers, that let you basically cut the security line. For the most part, they all loved it. Despite the fact that I do a lot of flying, it never really seemed worth it to me. Plus there were security questions, such as when a laptop containing applicant data got lost last year. Oops. In the end, though, I have to admit almost never seeing anyone making use of the Clear shortcut at the airport, suggesting the private company that operated it wasn't making very much money. That now seems confirmed, as apparently the program is shutting down.

The company's founder, Stephen Brill, has already moved on to his next company -- a misguided attempt to make people pay for online news content. While Brill certainly has a big name reputation, it seems like he's had a lot of companies go sour in a row at this point. There was Brill's Content and then Contentville. Now there's Clear (whose official name was "Verified Identity Pass"). And the whole "iTunes for news" concept seems pretty questionable as well...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:20pm

    Recipe For Terrorism

    Given that most people picked up for alleged terrorism offences have no previous criminal record, or indeed anything indicating a history of affiliation to known terrorist organizations, it seems that schemes like these are a great way for those planning nefarious acts to take the express route to their goals.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:23pm

    Hmm, Mike, you are a guy who spots trends. Let's see: WSJ: Pay for content. Newspaper Industry: Wants pay for content. This guy's new venture: Pay for content.

    If I was in the guru business, I would think there was a trend there, either that or a strange run of startups in the buggy whip business.

     

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  3.  
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    Jacob, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:23pm

    Clear will be missed

    If you never used Clear you have no idea how great it was. Users will miss it tremendously. $120/year and you skip the security line. No more getting there extra early, no more anxiety, no more hassle. It was GREAT!
    It was also doomed. You could tell that it was going to shut down. There were 3 Clear workers at each station and they spent most of their time just standing around. It was obviously loosing money in buckets. Given the high labor costs I have a hard time imagining that there was ever a realistic business plan.

     

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  4.  
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    Jeffrey Leiken, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    Clear was worth it...

    As a frequent traveler having a 2 minute hop through Security at places like Atlanta, Dulles and JFKo sure made a difference... The Atlanta early morning lines alone typically take 20+ minutes by 5:30am... I'll miss it and hope they can get the funding to continue..

     

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  5.  
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    Andrew, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:42pm

    Worked for Clear

    I just started working for Clear a few weeks ago, and today they called and said to turn in our badges because the company is shutting down. In some ways it seems like it was doomed to failure--I worked a shift last week where for the last three hours only one person came through the lane. With two attendants at $12 an hour plus costs of management and whatever else, you can see how it wouldn't all add up. But I got lucky; I got offered a great job with another company over the weekend--and it's got better benefits anyway.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt Tate (profile), Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:44pm

    Re: suzuki grand vitara

    Hey, that's an insightful way of complementing those posters above you, and it's so kind of you to post a link in your message, too. I'll be sure to click on that and buy things.

     

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  7.  
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    Richard Brklacich, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Clear was a great idea... but not in LAX

    It was a great idea, but I did not think it would last a long time. Frequent travelers already enjoy perks such as shortened lines for security which is the very reason why I never bothered to get Clear. Also, most travelers you see in airport are leisure travelers.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Ode to My Clear Card Friends...

    Actually, I saw it as an excuse to be lazy and excuse to not set my alarm clock to get to the airport on time.

    Plus, when I missed the flight, I'd wave it around with my 1st class ticket, platinum card, and passport, saying I couldn't walk to the counter on time, while omitting the blatantly fact I was at the Airport Bar, and thinking no one could smell the cheap brandy on my breath. Yes, it really was a dick move, but almost assured me someone else would get bumped for me.

    Ah yes.

    I am that guy. The dick with one with the Clear Card.

     

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  9.  
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    Dan, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 9:47pm

    I will sorely miss Clear! The only airport I ever got much use out of it was Albany, but man what a difference. It let me sleep an extra 30 minutes before those 6:00am flights. I REALLY hope they can continue, but I doubt it. I was the only I ever saw in that lane. My 150 bucks a year didn't pay for the 2 people standing there all day long. I'm saddened, but not surprised.

     

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  10.  
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    Drtaxsacto, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Recipe For Terrorism

    That is nonsense. The Clear program required a number of biometrics to be offered.

     

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  11.  
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    Drtaxsacto (profile), Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 11:50pm

    Clear Path

    I am a very frequent flyer and signed up for the program in the first year. But it was never very useful. I only used it a couple of times. I found that for the most part even in busy airports like Reagan - Clear Path did not offer any real advantages.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 1:42am

    Re: Recipe For Terrorism

    Drtaxsacto spouted:

    The Clear program required a number of biometrics to be offered.

    Which doesn’t solve the problem. None of the 11/9 terrorists were travelling under any kind of false ID. They would have passed any biometric checks you can think of. That’s why this whole Clear program was a complete waste of time.

     

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  13.  
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    Angry Clear Worker, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:33am

    I am (use to be) a clear worker. I've been there for a yr. I think its really ashame how the company shut down. We knew it would happen, but not like this. NO NOTICE. My staff worked an entire shift and on our ways home we recieve a phone call from another airport that it was over. So no one ever informed us of what was really going on. It really was a great program for the ppl whom used it. I just wished more ppl would have joined the program. And let me educate some of you. The program was a fast pass thru airport security! Not a skip thru security. All members were required to enter security. Each member must enroll online,answer a few questions about your self. hen come into the enrollment center with 2 gov issued id's(meaning raised seals) then we cature biometics 2 are required, iris are optional. which were place on a chip on a card. So no its not easy for a terrorist to get thru our once lane. Many of our members actually felt better with us then tsa!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:06am

    lines at ATL haven't exceeded 20 minutes since last year, thanks to the new lanes that opened. They seldom exceed 10 minutes now. Clear was a big waste of money here

    I like the employee lane myself :)

     

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  15.  
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    Upset User, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:50am

    Go to the Clear VCs and let them know you are upset

    The VCs behind this are as responsible as the company itself. The company was marketing multi-year services to new customers up until the very day they closed down. This is a dishonest, moral issue. The fat-cat VCs and the company were offering extended contracts to fleece the consumer ahead of what was going to be a shutdown. That's criminal. If you are one of the supposed 250,000 people who were ripped off by Clear and Spark Capital, go ahead and call them at the number below to let them know how you feel:
    Spark Capital
    137 Newbury St.
    8th Floor
    Boston, MA 02116

    Phone: 617.830.2000
    Fax: 617.830.2001


    http://www.sparkcapital.com/contact/

     

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  16.  
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    Donna, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Will be missed

    I am really sad to see this end. As a frequent traveler it was great to get through the long lines. Even as a frequent flyer and those privilages the lines (especially in Atlanta on a Monday morning) are just as bad as the regular lines. You still had to wait 30 to 40 minutes to get through security. With clear it was a matter of minutes. Maybe if the cost had been lower it might have induced more people to join.

     

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  17.  
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    Doc Holliday, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Recipe For Terrorism

    Clear Members were subjected to the EXCACT same security proceedures at the airport as non-clear members. PLUS they were subjected to ADDITIONAL security checks such as background, residence and employment history. Clear members did NOT bypass any security measures implemented by Homeland Security.

     

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  18.  
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    Online Sports Betting, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:59am

    Great idea - bad timing and bad pricing

    Waiting lines are way down from two years ago. Only few big airports still have bottlenecks. With economy on the slump and consumers cutting down on all unnecessary spending, $120 a year is way too much.

    Brill's mistake was getting too big too fast without doing test-measure-scale market research. I would target, price and grow it differently. Generally, people get to airport on time and have time to stand in line. Market niche here is people who are habitually late or accidentally late. Would you rather miss a plane or pay a small $3-$6 fee to make it? I would pay.

    Also, I would have a small joining fee to cover the membership costs and open service in the busiest airports first. The main idea here would be to have users pay per single trip only - you want to use the service cause you late at the airport - quickly sweep your card and pay one time fee, real time testing is needed to find the best price.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    I am a frequent business traveler and Clear worked great. It was well worth the $120 a year. It was especially valuable at over-crowded airports such as Orlando and Las Vegas, as well as the Delta Shuttle in Boston, my home base. The Delta shuttle frequently has a 45 minute line at 6AM, and I would get through in 5-10 minutes at most with the Clear card. Frequent flyer lanes are no substitute. I will definitely miss this.

    Share the observations that it was under used...

     

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  20.  
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    Online Sports Betting (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:15am

    Additional note

    I would also study busy times at airports and man the check points accordingly to save on labor costs.

     

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  21.  
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    Fred Powell, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:19am

    Membership fee refunds

    Does anyone know if there is any procedure to get a membership fee refund? I purchased a multi-year renewal during last years promotion.

     

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  22.  
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    Jeff D., Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: Membership fee refunds

    I just got my Amex statement and found a charge for a renewal that I did not authorize. I filed a dispute with Amex, hope I get my money back. On a side note the service in Denver was great...sorry to see it go away.

     

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  23.  
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    Walter Rebello, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Clear will be missed at MCO

    In Orlando there are no fast lane for 1st class or elite status passangers.
    Only fast way throught security was Clear.
    Airlines and Airport officials will have to do something about it.
    High Season in Orlando means up to one hour wait.
    Clear will be missed in Orlando.

     

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  24.  
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    Steve Brill, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Clear had over 260,000 subscribers. With recurring annual payments, that was MORE than enough to cover operating expenses at the 18 airports Clear serviced, it's not like we were paying PHD's to work for us. I spent most of the money on booze and broads, and blew the rest on the blackjack table. What are you going to do, sue me? It was a "business expense". Hey, a CEO's got to have his perks, doesn't he. So sorry we billed you again, and good luck getting any of your money back, but after paying for my golden parachute, there's nothing left for you to go after. Heck, we even sold off our equipment to FLO, and that money's gone too. So long, suckers!

     

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  25.  
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    Ken, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Clear comments

    First to those who miss it..me too. I travel over 100k/yr and will sorely miss it. Especially in Orlando and Atlanta.

    To those who thought it was too expensive, I guess its all relative, if you travel a lot for business, the convenience was so worth the money and it pays for itself very quickly. If it seemed to much, then perhaps your time to value is just different then mine.

    And for those who resented the Clear program because we got through in front of you when you were waiting in line for an hour..try flying 100K a year..spend that much time on the road ..then see if you complain when you have to wait for evey tourist idiot that can't figure out how to go through airport security ..

    I just hope someone funds a similar program so I don't have to wait in line with "The Griswalds" every week.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Clear will be missed at MCO

    Wha.... so you have extra money to blow on crap... it should afford you any extra bonus when going though security. That should be an extra charge ON TOP on the ticket. Get over your self.

    Many people myself included could give a rats flying @*#% if you fly 20k miles a year. Stand in line like the rest of us you stuck up snob.

     

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  27.  
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    Ken, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Clear will be missed at MCO

    Now I get the name, Anonymous Coward...anyway, it has nothing to do with being stuck up, a snob or any other adjectives there Clark. Have a nice flight.

     

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  28.  
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    Ken, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Clear will be missed at MCO

    Now I get the name, Anonymous Coward...anyway, it has nothing to do with being stuck up, a snob or any other adjectives there Clark. Have a nice flight.

     

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  29.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Recipe For Terrorism

    Doc Holliday claimed:

    Clear Members were subjected to the EXCACT same security proceedures at the airport as non-clear members.

    If that’s true, then what exactly are they bypassing in the long lines? Clearly they are offering a way around the normal security checks, otherwise there is no point to the service.

     

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  30.  
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    Angry Clear Worker, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Recipe For Terrorism

    Your absolutley right. Our Clear members bypassed the security lines! Hints the our billboards "bypass sercurity lines with Clear" Genius boy! So when your waiting in line and that 3 or 4 members cut infront of you before security, guess what they've just bypassed the security lines. That was the whole point for requent flyers to have some type of security when they are cutting it close for a flight, bc nowadays every on is elite! For this service, the company was over seen by TSA! Your saying it was a waste of time, but it wasnt a waste time the 3,000+ Clear workers who lost out on their jobs,workers that have families. So how about you shut the hell u, Bc the Workers of clear did a hell of a job,better than TSA actually.

     

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  31.  
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    Grae (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Can get this post nuked please? It's a pretty obvious attempt at getting someone's email address on as many spam lists as possible.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 7:12pm

    VIP

    This was just basically a program to let those who could afford it "buy" their way out of have to stand in the same long lines as everyone else. There was no requirement that you fly any minimum number of miles or anything like that. Heaven forbid the well-to-do have to rub elbows with the great unwashed masses.

    Good riddance.

     

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  33.  
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    GJ (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Airport make-work projects

    I hope that the lines for the make-believe security at the airports take longer and longer and longer until finally somebody says "well, these checks serve no actual purpose, and they waste valuable time for thousands upon thousands of people, so let's get rid of them".

    Of course, that presumes that fear mongering goes out of style with our elected officials, and I don't see that happening in a hurry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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