California Bill Takes On Airport Line-Cutters

As it is, a passenger who doesn't pay extra has to 'let the rich person pass you'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2024 5:55 PM CDT
Bill Addresses Line-Cutters at California's Airports
Travelers line up at the south security checkpoint Tuesday at Denver International Airport in Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

California lawmakers are considering putting an end to what some see as a class issue at airports: letting people pay to cut ahead in the line for TSA screening. "The least you can expect when you have to go through the security line at the airport is that you don't suffer the indignity of somebody pushing you out of the way to let the rich person pass you," said state Sen. Josh Newman, the Democrat who sponsored the bill. The legislation is aimed at vendors such as CLEAR, whose customers pay $189 a year to verify their identities at kiosks; they then receive an escort past waiting passengers to the front of TSA lines, Politico reports.

Under the legislation, CLEAR would have to establish its own security line to keep operating in California airports. The company declined to comment on the bill, which is due for a committee hearing Tuesday, but said it provides hundreds of jobs and shares more than $13 million in revenue with the nine California airports it's in. CLEAR operates in about 50 US airports, per CBS News, as well as at stadiums and other places. Its service differs from TSA PreCheck, which speeds up the security checkpoint process. Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian airlines are fighting Newman's bill, saying the loss of revenue could force them to raise fares.

Newman said he's not trying to drive CLEAR out of business but seeking to eliminate "a moment of friction" when its clients push past travelers who didn't pay extra. He also doesn't consider the service secure; CLEAR drew congressional attention last year when an employee took a passenger through security who had found a boarding pass in the trash, per Politico. "It becomes a haves vs. have nots where those who can afford it jump in front of the rest of us," said Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen. (More airport security stories.)

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