Airport biometrics company Clear could be expanding into the TSA PreCheck business by the end of the year. It is one of three companies eligible to enroll travelers in the expedited airport screening program, and the Agency expects that at least one, if not all three, could have their new systems online later this year.
TSA announces the anticipated launch of additional enrollment providers who will be able to establish additional price points for the TSA PreCheck Application Program. These enrollment providers are planned to become available in 2021 to increase opportunities to apply for membership in the program.
TSA established the TSA PreCheck Application Program in December 2013 to expand access to expedited screening to individuals who voluntarily provide information that TSA uses to determine whether the traveler is low risk. Currently all enrollment is handled by the Agency. But 18 months ago a trio of companies – Alclear, LLC; IDEMIA, and; Telos Identity Management Solutions, LLC – were selected as enrollment providers. They are now free to compete for enrollments.
The TSA expects that these companies will use “new locations, procedures, systems, and fees to gain program applicants… To attract new applicants to the TSA PreCheck Application Program, an enrollment provider may choose to offer additional services or other incentives to TSA PreCheck applicants, beyond membership in the program, as part of its program fee. For instance, an enrollment provider may offer discounts for travel related products.”
In the case of Clear, the additional product would almost certainly be access to the company’s ID verification services at select US airports. Getting to bundle the TSA PreCheck benefits in with the biometric access to the checkpoint would be a natural fit, and also a great upsell opportunity for the company. A PreCheck authorization lasts five years, and the base application fee must be paid up front, even if the third party wants to sell a shorter subscription. But Clear could amortize the $85 fee across a multi-year Clear subscription and almost certainly attract and retain more subscribers.
For those worried that the new competition might somehow lead to PreCheck prices increasing, the TSA covers that, too. If anything, the rates are likely to go down, not up. In its regulatory filing the Agency notes, “The fee to apply for initial membership and to renew membership in the TSA PreCheck Application Program will not exceed $85 for individuals enrolling through the Universal Enrollment Services enrollment provider.” And the TSA will continue to offer its own enrollment option even after the others launch their services.
Also, beware of other sketchy companies selling PreCheck application services today. There’s (at least) one charging nearly double the TSA price with no difference in the services rendered.
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