Security fast-tracking may resurface at SFO 

It is kind of like congestion pricing on freeways: Travelers pay to bypass crowded airport security lines.

It was a business model that was working at airports including San Francisco International Airport until last June, when the market leader, Clear, shuttered its doors because of accumulating debt. The company was soon forced to declare bankruptcy, according to

However, the company has opened again under new ownership, with plans to offer travelers the option of cutting to the front of security lines for a high price. In addition, competitor Flo Corp. has teamed up with Cogent Systems to bring back the registered traveler program.

Travelers pay between $149 and $179 to enroll in the program, which relies on biometrics — an eye scan or fingerprint — to positively identify them as priority passengers as they go through security lines.

Money and weak enrollment was a huge hurdle for the fledgling business before it shut down at airports across the nation. Yet this time around, CEOs promise that with more investors, more capital and better enrollment technologies available, the registered-traveler concept will be far more successful.

“If you look at the resource pool, we are four times what Clear was,” said Glenn Argenbright, CEO of Virginia-based Flo. “From a cost and capacity perspective, we are way better off.”

San Francisco has not yet made any commitments to reviving such a program at SFO. Airport officials said they have not been approached by any companies and they are in the “wait and see” stage.

But Argenbright said companies, including Flo, have had conversations with SFO officials as recently as two weeks ago.

“We had heard they were not going to do this again, but in the last few weeks, our understanding [was] they started meeting with the different competitors and providers, and I suspect they are going to get back into the market,” Argenbright said.

Flo has already landed a deal with Indianapolis International Airport, where travelers can cut through security for an annual fee of $149, Argenbright said. And Clear is launching a new security benefit in Denver, according to the company’s website.

“People who used it seemed to enjoy it,” SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said. “I don’t know of any real problems with it.”

Flying through the waiting line

Virginia-based Flo could bring its program, which allows paying passengers to bypass security lines, to San Francisco International Airport.

7-9 Average minutes passengers wait in security lines at SFO

15 Minutes during peak travel days and hours

$179 Maximum annual enrollment cost for the registered-traveler program

Tags: ,

About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Pin It

More by Erin Sherbert

Latest in Government & Politics

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation