250,000 frequent fliers were sent to the back of the line today after the Clear Card abruptly ceased operations.
Verified Identity Pass operated the Clear Card, and cited an inability to negotiate an agreement with creditors as the reason for the sudden closure. No information was readily available as to whether program participants will see refunds on the all or part of the $200 yearly fee they pay for the privilege of skipping lines.
The idea of “registered travelers” gained traction after the September 11th attacks and subsequent tightened security and long lines. Piloted at Orlando International Airport, the service expanded to 18 of the 21 airports with reserved security lines. Utilizing background checks, retinal scans and fingerprinting, the service pre-authenticated the identity of subscribers.
Consumer confidence may have been harmed by perceived data management issues, as well as some issues implementing the program for all airlines or in all potential airports. David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, was quoted as saying that the program provided “no real customer convenience or security benefit.”
The program ceased with this message on Clear’s website, posted late Monday night:
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.