Largest registered traveler service, Clear, craps out

TSA, security issues made it rough for the company

The idea was good - help business travelers mostly zip through airport security checks. But those perks apparently weren't enough as Clear, the largest of the registered travelers service with over 165,000 members shut down last night.   

 On the company's Web site it stated:

At 11:00 p.m. PST on June 22, 2009, Clear will cease operations. Clear's parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations. 

 It hasn't been smooth sailing for the company by any means.  In 2008, the US. Transportation Security Administration temporarily stopped it from signing up new customers for its Registered Traveler program after a company laptop containing the unencrypted personal data of 33,000 people went missing at the San Francisco International Airport.  The laptop contained personal records of customers seeking to enroll in the company's Registered Traveler program which cost about $200 per year.

 A Wall Street Journal article stated that  TSA never was comfortable with the notion of "trusting" any travelers, and so the security benefits of a Clear card boiled down to getting a special lane and some staff to help carry plastic tubs for you. For some people, moving to the front of a line was worth the price. But many travelers now receive that benefit with special lines for elite-level frequent fliers. And since lines are, for the most part, far less of an issue for travelers, the re-named "registered traveler" program has been slow to catch on with the flying public. Clear only was available at about 20 airports around the country and often only at specific checkpoints at those airports.

 While he resigned in March, Clear was founded by Steven Brill, the founder of Court TV.

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