Biometric Tech Lets Miami Travelers Breeze through Airport Security

On May 20, Miami International Airport will launch a new secure identification option that uses fingerprints or iris scans.

by Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel / May 7, 2015

(TNS) -- Travelers at Miami International Airport will soon have the option to shorten their wait to get through the dreaded security checkpoint — for a price.

On May 20, a new secure identification option called CLEAR that verifies identities through fingerprints or iris scans will launch at the Miami airport.

Travelers enrolled in CLEAR will use the technology to bypass fliers waiting in line for security agents to scruitinize IDs and boarding passes.

A membership is $179, but an additional family member can enroll for $50. Children under 18 can accompany members for free. A two-month free trial is offered for travelers enrolling at MIA.

Enrollees still must go through the usual drill of removing their shoes and belts, putting their laptops in bins and pushing their carry-on luggage through the xray machine. But officials of CLEAR, a New York-based technology firm, say their product allows members to breeze through airport security checkpoints in less than five minutes.

"We think of us as the ATM of identity," CLEAR CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker said Tuesday of the kiosk-based technology.

Enrollment is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents 18 years and older who sign up online at Clearme.com or at a participating airport.

Once enrolled, travelers have to register in person to verify their ID and get their fingerprint and iris scanned. A "CLEARcard" is then mailed to the member for use at the airport when traveling.

At MIA for example, a representative will greet enrolled travelers at the designated CLEAR lane where they'll insert their card into the CLEAR kiosk, then get their fingerprint or iris scanned before proceeding to the security checkpoint.

The CLEAR technology will be available for passengers traveling at gates in Concourses D, E, H and J, which serve American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and other carriers.

Enrollments for CLEAR opened Tuesday at the Miami airport in gates E and H.

Miami International is the 12th U.S. airport to receive CLEAR, which first launched at Orlando International Airport several years ago.

Today, CLEAR has more 350,000 enrolled members and the technology has been used more than two million times by travelers, Seidman-Becker said.

The company is eyeing more airports for expansion nationally, including possibly others in South Florida. Seidman-Becker said many South Floridians are already enrolled in CLEAR and using it at other airports.

CLEAR is among a handful of programs that expedite security and custom processing for travelers at the Miami airport.

In March, MIA added an app called Mobile Passport Control that enables qualified international travelers to submit their passport and customs declarations information through their smartphones and then move through dedicated security lanes.

"We continue to explore any means possible to expedite and streamline the security screening experience at MIA, and CLEAR certainly provides a customer-friendly option for our passengers," said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González.

©2015 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.