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A new bill from California would restrict the “Clear” line-skipping service at airports in the name of equity

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New legislation proposed in California would bar expedited security screening company Clear from operating at the state’s airports, as advocates say the service raises equity issues because it effectively lets wealthier people get ahead of passengers waiting in line. waiting to be screened by the Transportation Security Administration. TSA) agents.

The bill, SB-1372, the first of its kind in the U.S., would require third-party vendors like Clear to have their own dedicated security lane or lose the ability to operate at California airports.

Clear charges members $189 per year to verify passengers’ identities at airports, allowing them to bypass TSA checkpoints. According to the website, the service is used at more than 55 airports in the US, as well as dozens of sports stadiums and other locations. Members verify their identity at Clear kiosks. It is separate from TSA Pre-Check, although many Clear members use both services.

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Passengers use a Clear kiosk that allows quick and secure identity confirmation. (Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/Getty Images)

State Senator Josh Newman, a Democrat, is sponsoring the legislation.

“It’s a fundamental equity problem when you see people who subscribe to a concierge service being escorted by people who have waited a long time to get to the front of the TSA line,” Newman told CBS MoneyWatch.

“Everyone is disappointed with the travel experience, and when Clear is escorting a customer for you and tells TSA, ‘Sorry, I have someone better,’ it’s really frustrating.”

Republican Senator Janet Nguyen has raised similar concerns but does not support the bill, a spokesperson told Fox Business.

“I understand the frustration expressed in Senator Newman’s bill,” Nguyen, who serves on the Transportation Committee, told Politico. “It becomes a haves vs. have-nots where those who can afford it stand out ahead of the rest of us. They even go ahead of TSA Pre-boarding pass travelers who have been screened by the TSA.”

Six major airlines — Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian — opposed the bill, writing a letter this month to Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Dave Cortese arguing that its implementation would result in revenue losses. to lead.

They wrote that the services were used more than 5 million times in California in 2023.

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Passengers walk past a TSA agent at Ronald Reagan Airport

A Transportation Security Administration official at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on November 21, 2023. (Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The airlines argued that the bill “not only threatens to increase airline fees, but also severely limits airports’ ability to effectively manage security checkpoint lines, resulting in a negative travel experience for our California customers.”

A Clear spokesperson echoed the airline’s concerns.

“We will continue to work constructively with lawmakers, the federal government and our airport partners to ensure operations at California’s airports are as seamless and efficient as possible,” Ricardo Quinto said in a statement to Politico.

Supporters of the bill include the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and the union representing Transportation Security Officers in Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose.

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TSA badge seal

Passengers go through TSA security checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport on January 10. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“Clear is nothing more than the luxury resale of more space in the airport security queue, where those who pay can skip the line at the expense of every other traveler,” said James Murdock, president of AFGE Local 1230, the union of TSA officers. local department, wrote in a separate letter to Cortese, according to CBS.

“While Clear can save time for its paying customers, non-customers suffer from Clear’s aggressive sales tactics and longer security queues while undergoing vital security screening.”

The bill was scheduled to go before the California Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This report has been updated to clarify the bill’s impact on Clear at California airports.

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