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Airport security pay-lanes close

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

A company that charged passengers for assistance in getting through airport security quickly, and seemed to be gaining popularity in the Atlanta area, has ceased operation.

Clear, the company that pre-screened members and walked them through airport security, had signed on some 20,000 members in metro Atlanta since it began operating last October, Cindy Rosenthal, vice president of media relations for Clear, said before the shut-down.

In a posting on its web site, Clear said its parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc., "has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations."

Tuesday afternoon, Clear updated the posting with a message about the security of members' data. "Applicant and Member data is currently secured in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration's Security, Privacy and Compliance Standards. Verified Identity Pass, Inc., will continue to secure such information and will take appropriate steps to delete the information," the message said.

The web site also said that "because of its financial condition, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. cannot issue refunds."

Rosenthal could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

From Oct. 1, 2008 to March 12, 2009, Clear lanes were used 100,000 times at Hartsfield-Jackson, Rosenthal said earlier this month. They were used another 150,000 times from March 12 to June 12, she said.

Brian Kramer, assistant operations manager for Clear at Hartsfield-Jackson, said earlier this month that Clear passengers waited between 2 minutes and 5 minutes to get through security.

There were two Clear security lanes in Atlanta's airport, one at the North Terminal and another at the South Terminal, according to Kramer.

Kramer said this month that the lane at the South Terminal was "the busiest Clear lane out of all the airports."

Clear operated at 18 U.S. airports, including Boston's Logan International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, according to Rosenthal. Clear members paid as much as $199 per year for membership.

Clear began operation in July 2005, at the Orlando International Airport in Florida, Rosenthal said.

Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman John Kennedy said Clear's lanes led to the airport's general security screening areas, and Clear's absence is not expected to affect airport travelers.

"We don't anticipate any impact to our customers at Hartsfield-Jackson," he said.

Kennedy said the airport's security lanes process about 40,000 passengers per day.

Last October, the airport opened 10 new security lanes, bringing its total to 32 lanes. Kennedy said there are three checkpoint entrances, and that passengers are typically screened within 10 minutes.

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Clear: www.flyclear.com