California Considers Change To Clear System

If you are a frequent flyer, there’s a California bill that could significantly impact how you travel.

The issue at hand revolves around Clear, a private security screening company that’s carved a niche for itself by offering expedited security clearances for an annual fee. Clear comes to the rescue of many travelers who are willing to shell out $189 each year for the privilege of sidestepping the dreaded TSA checkpoints. Since its inception in 2010, Clear’s service has spread to approximately 50 airports across the United States, saving countless hours spent in queues.

However, California doesn’t like the common person who doesn’t fly a private jet to have nice things. State Senator Josh Newman has proposed a bill, often referred to as SB-1372, that would stop Clear from operating in California airports. According to Newman, this is an issue of basic equity. He’s gotten quite vocal about his dissatisfaction with a system that lets wealthier people “skip the line” ahead of other passengers who have been patiently waiting their turn. Newman’s bill doesn’t aim to shut down Clear, however. He simply wants the company to operate its own dedicated security lines, separate from TSA lines, to avoid causing any unnecessary tension or frustration among passengers.

Interestingly, this proposed bill has found support across party lines and from groups like the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and the union representing Transportation Security Officers in several California cities. They argue that the bill, if passed, could democratize airport security checkpoints. However, the bill also has its detractors, mostly major airline carriers who fear the measure could hamper how airports manage security lines, thereby affecting the passenger experience and potentially hurting business.

The matter comes to a head soon, when the bill makes its way before the California State Senate’s transportation committee. It’s certain to spark intense debate, as it tugs on the delicate balance between convenience and equity in the travel experience.


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