Scotland callingMy sister and I leave for Edinburgh today. Ben's show is getting a lot of press so being there for opening night should be interesting. We'll be in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival through Tuesday, then in London through Saturday. Horrible exchange rates, here we come!
Labels: travelPermalink • 0 comments •
Thursday, February 22, 2007
skip lines, piss off crowds
Source: FlyClear.com via Thrillist.
I just read about a company called Clear that, through a special partnership with the TSA, allows air travelers to register with them to bypass check-in lines at airports. As a Clear member, you pay $99 a year to have the right to go straight to a special Clear members-only check-in station at the airport, where your bags are scanned immediately and you can proceed straight through to the gate with no hour long waits to clear security.
Clear members are pre-screened before being able to join and provided with a biometric card, which is either a fancy way of saying "card" or it means that they employ some kind of fingerprint system, I'm not sure which. Regardless, this is an intriguing program to me. Post-9/11 air travel ranges from mediocre to impossibly horrible. In light of the hundreds of cancelled flights over Presidents' Day weekend, JetBlue created a customer Bill of Rights and issued an apology letter from their CEO, which they emailed to all of their customers and posted on their website.
Considering that air travel does not appear to be getting any easier anytime soon, I think Clear sounds like a fantastic idea. At $100 a year, Clear is a relatively low-cost way to improve the hassles and expense of airport bureaucracy. Business travelers lose thousands of hours of productivity waiting in lines at airports. The ability to skip through those lines would seem to greatly improve that.
One thing that's unclear about Clear is how effective it will be. Currently, they're in just one terminal at JFK, as well as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Newark. The promise is that more are on the way, but I'm not sure how long that will take and I certainly wouldn't join until at the very least they're in an entire airport in NYC and not just one terminal. I'm not sure how many members they currently have, but presumably their membership is still pretty low. I also wonder what they are paying to the TSA and their employees to stay in business.
Then there's the civil liberties question. Say that Clear works as it should and costs what they're selling it for currently. What rights will we be giving up to take advantage of something like this? All Clear members have to provide fingerprints and pass background checks. Does the "biometric card" that Clear provides its members allow the government to track people? What else is Clear doing with their members' data?
I'll be interested to follow this one over the next few months/years. It could take awhile for this to catch on, and there's the possiblity that there will be backlash similar to the way Russians have reacted to the rent-a-motorcade service that allows the wealthy to steer clear of traffic there. We'll see what happens. Permalink • 0 comments •