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Paying to Give Up Your Privacy

As my good friend, Bill Wanegrin, said, the Registered Traveler Program aka CLEAR is when you pay to give up your privacy!

Well, that depends on your point of view.

The program allows travelers to pay about $128.00 to have their irises scanned, their finger prints registered and all kinds of personal information investigated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Homeland Security team.

What you get, if you pass the investigation, is a cool looking (could be confused with Am Ex’s Blue Card) plastic card called CLEAR that allows you to use a separate security clearance line at participating airports, and be hand-held by CLEAR staff as you pass through al those well-intended security procedures.

It’s touted as taking about 5 minutes vs the 45 to 60 minutes mere mortals have to take in using regular security.

Right now about 19 or 20 airports use the system, including New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy, as well as Regan in D.C, Dulles, Denver and others.

The first step for anyone interested is to go to, sign up, answer questions then find a participating enrollment station like one of the airports or Grand Central Station (a list is posted on line) and go through the biometrics process.

The company that runs the program, Verified Identity Pass, swears that privacy is not compromised. They say independent auditors monitor them closely for privacy violations.

OK…we’ve heard that before.

I also think the cards will be used for discounts, getting into sports events or other kinds of arena-oriented activities.

I think we may be seeing the beginnings of a true second-class travel citizenship.

Families should take note: children under 12 do not have to pay.

The company wanted the exemption to apply to kids under 16, but were overruled. So they say. It would have meant less money for them if the age were 16, but I’ll take them at their word.

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