N.Y. company selected to run fast airport lines
By RUSSELL GRANTHAM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA, Ga. — New York-based Clear said Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has picked the company to run a high-speed security line for paying members, although the pilot program still will require approval from the Atlanta City Council.
The tentative approval means the world's busiest airport could soon have one or two designated lanes handling passengers who hope to breeze through security in a few minutes.
The program is aimed at business travelers willing to pay $100 or more annually and to undergo an extensive background check and provide biometric information, such as fingerprints and iris scans in advance.
Clear Chief Executive Steven Brill said he hopes to have the program in operation at the airport before the summer rush of vacation travelers.
"We'll have 100,000 members in the Atlanta airport very quickly," he said, predicting that it will speed up security lines for both paying members and other travelers.
However, Ben DeCosta, the airport's general manager, said the pilot program still faces a number of steps before it starts, including council approval. Airport officials also will consult with the Transportation Security Administration and Delta Air Lines and AirTran, the two largest airlines at the airport, "to make sure everyone's on the same page," said DeCosta.
Some airlines have been wary of the programs, which could compete with their own express lanes set aside for members of their elite traveler programs. Other opponents say the lines discriminate against travelers who can't afford the fees, or worry about potential civil liberties issues.
Clear, a unit of Verified Identity Pass, operates such lines in 17 other airports, including Orlando's and some terminals at New York's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports. The company typically shares a portion of the annual fees with the airports. Brill predicted the program will generate more than $1 million annually for Atlanta's airport.