ORLANDO – At Orlando International Airport (search), some people have been able to skip the long lines and get into the "clear line," allowing them to avoid some of the "hurry up and wait."
Travelers who pay $80, submit extensive information about themselves and pass a homeland security background check can get a "clear card."
The size of a credit card, the clear card contains biometric information that includes a scan of their iris and their fingerprints. The card is part of the Transportation Security Administration's registered traveler (search) program.
Verified Identity Pass, Inc., operates the first privately run program of its kind. The program has enrolled approximately 4,000 travelers since it began accepting applications on June 21.
"This is a common-sense program by which people volunteer to be pre-screened, then the security people at the airport know a little bit more about them when they show up and they can move them through an expedited security line," said Steven Bill, founder and CEO of Verified Identity Pass, Inc.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks (search), airport security was stepped up and long lines became even longer. Verified ID says that within about six years, some 3 million people will use its clear card at airports, offices and stadiums nationwide, and lines will become shorter.
Card users are cleared only if the system recognizes their iris and fingerprints. If the information doesn't match, security is called in.
"As long as I'm not doing anything wrong, they can track me all they want," said clear card user Larry Bramble.
One security expert said this new technology could work but safety shouldn't be substituted with speed.
"I think we're going to keep this system in an experimental phase for some time to come just to be sure that we're striking the right balance between vigilance and convenience," said John Pike, founder of Globalsecurity.org.
Although Orlando International Airport is the only airport now using the Verified ID clear card, the company is working to bring the technology to at least 20 other airports nationwide. Other airports, such as Los Angeles International Airport and Reagan National Airport in Washington, take part in TSA's registered traveler program.