Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Gets an Upgrade in Personal Identification Measures
By Robert Foster
With the busy travel season quickly approaching, alternatives to long lines and wait times will be much welcomed by busy travelers.
Starting today at the north and south checkpoints of Terminal 1 in the MSP airport, passengers have the ability to move directly to bag-scanning and metal detection stations without the hassle of long lines at security verification checkpoints. All it will require is a quick retinal scan and fingerprint identification to move these passengers to the front of the line.
This is made possible by new biometric technology offered as a private service, named Clear, by a New York based company. For a mere $179 yearly, passengers have the benefit of using these scanning stations as an alternative to security checkpoints for identity confirmation. Clear’s chief administrative officer David Cohen described the advantages of this service, stating “The single most important benefit is predictability that means another 30 minutes at home, another business meeting or more time to relax before having to get to the airport.”
This service has been contracted for two years by the Metropolitan Airports Commission for use at MSP to be put in direct comparison with the government’s current travelers program, PreCheck, which carries a price tag of $85 for five years. With the PreCheck program, travelers are sent through special lines where they still must see an agent before heading to the scanning and metal detection checkpoints. The MAC will receive 10% of sales made from the Clear service sales, although the main priority is to provide a more customer-friendly environment rather than act as a moneymaker.
The way the service will work is travelers will check in at the biometric scanning machines and be issued a verification slip, allowing them to move to the front of the line at the baggage and personal screening checkpoints.
Passengers are able to enroll onsite and be approved within minutes. A very in-depth verification of an individual’s identity will be performed through a series of questions, much like a financial institution verifying identity before releasing account information. If the questions are not answered adequately, it will result in failure to be accepted by the Clear service. After identity is verified, documentation such as driver license, passports or military ID are validated followed by collection of fingerprints, retinal scanning and facial photos.
There will be discounts given for the service to those travelers that are members of the Delta SkyMiles program. Also, additional family members can be added at a reduced rate and children under 18 are free.
This program already has over 1 million subscribers and is continuing to grow quickly.