“Rebranding the airport line-cutting service, Clear Reserve, may be a bold marketing strategy fraught with risks”

Clear Secure offers a strategic solution to air travel chaos

Clear Secure, a travel company best known for its paid service that expedites passengers’ movement through security lines, is offering a new free service called “Reserve powered by Clear” this summer. Reserve lets flyers pre-book time slots that allow them to bypass the regular security line and go straight to the front—a service that can be even more appealing to frustrated, summer travelers by helping them skip long lines. According to reports, Reserve is available in around 20 airports this summer.

The company’s flagship offering, which costs $179 per year and lets passengers skip to the front of the security line by approving biometric identification markers, raised concerns from some passengers who believe it’s ‘extortion.’ Clear Secure is being accused of using the Reserve service as a means to brand itself as an elite service that discriminates against certain travelers, instead of as a helpful service for all.

Clear Secure’s mixed reputation

Clear Secure’s new free service has been highly anticipated by those looking for a travel ‘hack’ that can help them avoid long waits at highly congested airports. On the other hand, it’s easy to resent the company if it means that those who can afford to pay for a service get to skip to the front of the security line, and those who cannot are left waiting.

Clear Secure, which is publicly traded, had a market valuation of $3.7 billion in 2022 and reported revenue of $435 million. Additionally, the company claims to have over 16 million users, and its presence is rapidly growing in airports, stadiums, and other venue categories. However, the current success of the company hasn’t come without criticism from some passengers, as well as industry analysts, who believe that the service essentially creates a caste system at airport security lines based solely on passengers’ means and travel frequency.

The company’s Reserve scheme is a double-edged sword

While the Reserve service is sure to generate interest from flyers at crowded airports, it’s also potentially setting Clear Secure up to be even more resented than ever. On one hand, Clear customers can breeze through airport security lines effortlessly. On the other, there’s likely to be resentment among those who cannot afford to pay for expedited service, so the company’s offering is viewed as a way to circumvent standard procedure.

According to Vox, an industry analyst suggested that Clear Secure’s service is recommended for those who travel often and can afford it. However, the brand’s use of a strategy that could marginalize other travelers may turn out to be a high cost of building an elite and exclusive service. Clear needs to be careful not to alienate passengers with its brand identity as an elite service, especially as summer travel experiences are already projected to be stressful and chaotic.


Clear Secure’s new Reserve service has its pros and cons. While it’s understandable that any resource that can help travelers avoid long airport security lines is appealing, Clear’s use of a service that allows only those who can afford its fees to bypass traditional lines risks being viewed by some as elitist and discriminatory. Nonetheless, Clear Secure’s success in the travel industry speaks for itself, with millions of users and a reliable reputation for expediting security processes at airports and other venues.

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