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Our Secret, Free Way to Get Through Airport Security Faster


Programs such as Clear and TSA PreCheck shorten the time required to go from curb to gate. However, at a combined cost of $267, these programs are only worthwhile if you're a frequent flier or have a credit card that covers the cost.

Extended security wait times have been the norm for everyone else—until recently. Reserve, powered by Clear, now offers all passengers at select airports a chance to access a shorter security line.

Reserve by Clear appWoman using the Reserve app by Clear; Photo courtesy of Clear

Reserve offers any air passenger, free of charge, the opportunity to reserve an appointment to access airport security. Appointments allow capacity controls to be implemented, ensuring passengers with reservations have a more reliable airport security experience and a shorter wait in line.

Reserve is currently available at 8 U.S. airports, 6 Canadian airports, and 6 European gateways.

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To book your next appointment, click the blue “Reserve Now” button on Clear's website, then select your departure airport. A web form will open to collect your travel details, such as date of travel and destination.

The site is very user-friendly. Flight numbers and departure times are prepopulated based on your selection of destination and airline.

Once your itinerary information is entered, you only have to choose the number of people in your party and an appointment time. Up to 10 people can be included on one reservation.

After entering your name and email address, you will be issued a QR code to present at the airport. On your day of travel, you can arrive 20 minutes before or after your reserved time. After showing your QR code to gain access to the Reserve lane, you'll proceed through the standard security protocols.

people walking through airport security check pointPeople passing through security check at airport; Photo by AzmanL/

The main downside to Reserve is that advance appointments are required. Unlike the paid version of Clear, Clear Plus, you're not guaranteed access to the Clear Reserve lane. Appointments are not guaranteed since this system works by controlling the number of passengers in line. Therefore, if you buy a last-minute plane ticket, you might not find any open security appointments.

If you are booking a group reservation, you can reduce the number of people on your reservation to see if that opens up any appointments. However, if that doesn't work, you'll have to proceed to the airport as usual and follow standard security procedures.

A second downside is that TSA PreCheck can’t be used with Clear Reserve. Unlike the lanes for Clear Plus members—which are offered ahead of both TSA PreCheck and TSA standard screening lanes—Clear Reserve only leads into the traditional security lane. Therefore, while Reserve can be used by anyone, it is not intended for people with TSA PreCheck. Users of Reserve still have to remove their shoes and take electronics and liquids out of their bags when going through airport security.

Some other airports operate similar services outside of the Clear network. For example, DFW in Dallas, Texas, offers the free Security Fast Pass program. This program functions similarly to Reserve, allowing passengers to book an appointment for the standard TSA screening lane up to a week before departure.