California Bill Aims to Ban CLEAR from Bypassing Airport Security Lines

California proposes banning CLEAR's priority airport security lines, citing equity concerns. The bill faces opposition from airlines but could set a precedent for other states.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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California Bill Aims to Ban CLEAR from Bypassing Airport Security Lines

California Bill Aims to Ban CLEAR from Bypassing Airport Security Lines

A new bill proposed in the California legislature seeks to prohibit the biometric security company CLEAR from allowing its subscribers to skip ahead in general airport security lines. The bill, SB-1372, sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Josh Newman, would be the first of its kind in the United States.

CLEAR, which charges members $189 per year, uses biometric data to confirm the identity of its subscribers and provide them with expedited access through a separate, often shorter security line. The service is currently used at over 55 airports across the country, including nine in California.

Sen. Newman and supporters of the bill contend that CLEAR's business model creates an unfair advantage for wealthier passengers and raises equity concerns. "CLEAR effectively allows people who have more money to skip ahead of other passengers waiting in line for TSA screening," Newman stated. "It's an equity issue and a matter of basic fairness."

Why this matters: The proposed legislation highlights the ongoing debate about the role of private companies in airport security and the balance between convenience and equal access. The outcome of this bill could set a precedent for other states considering similar measures.

Under SB-1372, airports in California would be required to complete their existing contracts with CLEAR but would be prohibited from entering into new agreements with third-party security vendors beginning in 2025. The bill would allow CLEAR to continue operating only if it establishes its own dedicated screening lanes, separate from the general security lines and TSA PreCheck.

The bill has garnered bipartisan support and backing from unions representing flight attendants and TSA officers. However, it faces significant opposition from major airlines that have partnerships with CLEAR, including Delta, Southwest, United, Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian. The airlines argue that the potential loss of revenue from CLEAR could lead to increased airfares for California passengers.

In a statement, CLEAR emphasized its positive impact on California airports, claiming it has created hundreds of jobs and shared more than $13 million in annual revenue with its nine airport partners in the state. The company also highlighted its efforts to "ensure a safer and easier checkpoint experience for all travelers."

As the bill heads to the California State Senate's transportation committee on Tuesday, the debate over CLEAR's role in airport security is expected to intensify. Sen. Newman remains committed to addressing what he sees as an equity issue, stating, "This is about the dignity and experience of the average traveler who has to wait in line."

Key Takeaways

  • California bill seeks to ban CLEAR's priority airport security lines
  • CLEAR allows subscribers to skip ahead for $189/year, raising equity concerns
  • Bill would require CLEAR to have dedicated screening lanes separate from TSA
  • Airlines oppose the bill, citing potential revenue loss and higher airfares
  • Bill has bipartisan support but faces significant opposition from airlines