Fly Clear Program Shuts Down
The company said it wasn't able to negotiate a deal with its creditors, and its Clear fast-lane security check service stopped operations abruptly late Monday. More than a quarter million customers won't get refunds of membership fees that ranged from $178 to $199 per year and many people bought multi-year memberships. Some Clear members found out via e-mail but many did not learn that the program was over until they showed up at the airport.
The program was founded in 2003 by Steven Brill but he left the company in February when a group of investors took control. Many travelers are concerned about what happens to their identifying information. If the company files for bankruptcy protection and is sold off there is the faint possibility that creditors could argue that the information be sold to the highest bidder to pay creditors but this seems unlikely because the courts will likely protect customers.
One lingering question is whether or not this type of service can work in the future. Have the changes in the TSA and airlines made the service less of a draw? The AP quotes Air Transport Association spokesman David Castelveter who said that the service "provided no security benefit, and it charged you for what the TSA and the airlines gave you at no cost." Some Clear members say that the service saved them time and gave them a bit of relief from the hassles of the regular security lines. The loss of this program may make airline elite status programs and private jet charter options more appealing again to those looking for ways to fly with less stress.