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Here's how to skip the worst part of airport security for free

Clear's Reserve service offers a 20-minute window to bypass everyone before the scanners

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

Have you flown recently and noticed that there’s no line in the Clear lane going through security? That’s for two reasons: a line never builds because Clear members zip right through, and also because a lot of people haven’t signed up for the membership. But Clear’s come up with a creative way to continue to speed up passengers who aren’t members. With its Reserve service, you can reserve a 20-minute window to use the special lane (not the same as the Clear line, but next to it), as reported by Travel + Leisure.

If you’re traveling with a big group or just a nervous passenger in general—and you don’t fly enough to warrant getting the TSA PreCheck or Clear memberships—then this is a great answer for you. You can scuttle past the long lines and even feel a little like a VIP as you look over at the snaking line of people slowly moving ahead by inches. You’re probably thinking like we were, that you would pay through the nose for this opportunity, but here’s the thing: it’s free.

All you have to do is book the reservation by going to Clear’s website to enter your flight details, the number of people in your party, and the reservation window you desire. You’ll get a QR code to confirm your reservation. On your departure date, just go through the Reserve line and show the code to the staff member at the top of the line. Schweeeeet! You of course still have to send your bags through the scanner along with everyone else, but at least you’ve jumped the identification line.

A few details to notice: one person can book for up to 10 people, but they all have to go through the line at the same time. So if you have that person who’s always late, tell them the window is 20 minutes earlier than it actually is. If you’re already a Clear member, you can also make a reservation if you wish, but it’s probably just as speedy to go through the regular Clear lane.

The Reserve line launched at Orlando International in 2021 and since then has opened up in 18 other North American airports: Calgary, Denver, Edmonton, LAX, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York’s JFK, Newark, Phoenix, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.

If you’re flying in from abroad, these international airports offer the service (which is nice for those of us with TSA PreCheck, since those aren’t available overseas): Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hannover, Reykjavik, and Rome.

Finally, if this article is making you wonder if it’s just time to get organized and order a membership, here’s some helpful information. The differences between Clear and TSA PreCheck:

With CLEAR Plus, you receive a quicker identity verification—often the longest part of the process— with a scan of your eyes or fingerprints before approaching the physical security station where your baggage gets scanned. The cost is $189/year.

With ‍TSA PreCheck, you’re in a separate line to do identity verification and also receive a quicker physical screening process. You’ll use baggage scanner lines separate from everyone else’s (including Clear members) without the need to remove shoes or unload electronics and liquids from your bag. The cost is a flat $78 for a five year membership. (And if you are a vehement line hater, you can even stack a membership with both, so you can go quickly through Clear to verify your identity, and then hop over to use the special TSA PreCheck baggage lanes). 

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