NY Times: scurry past lines at airport security

Wouldn't it be great to have more time to saunter through duty-free shops? The question is would you pay a yearly subscription to skip airport security lines. If there were such a service, many would probably answer 'yes'. Well, such a service may exist very soon.

The New York Times writes about the service once offered by entrepreneur Steven Frill. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he founded a company to offer a service that allowed its customers to pass through an express security lane at participating airports. 250,000 flyers signed up to receive a biometric card, manufactured by Verified Idendity Pass, Inc., which were accepted at 20 airports.

In a Newsweek column Steven Frill wrote that a private company could solve the problems of security and long lines in airports with a smart identification card. Verified Identity Pass, the New York-based company he created, required people to go through a lengthy enrollment process, give up personal information and have an iris scan and fingerprints recorded. In return, they got to bypass security lines, accompanied by Clear "concierges" who were stationed at airports like Kennedy International.

But last June, somehow the project imploded and its paying customers were left in the dust. The company wasn't able to offer refunds. Yet these people may yet get a break.

Kurtis Fechtmeyer, an investment banker based in Emeryville, Calif., said on Tuesday that his new investment group, Henry Inc., had signed a letter of intent with Morgan Stanley, to buy its assets and reopen the fast-lane security service Clear. Previous customers will be able to rejoin with their memberships intact. "People are still desperate for convenience at security checkpoints, and the government is very interested in having more registered travelers whose identities are verified," he said. "There is still strong demand for this service."

Mr. Fechtmeyer hopes to rekindle the vision of simplifying the pre-flight experience at airports. For up to $199 a year, anyone who passes the rigorous enrollment process can have the luxury of arriving late yet not have to run to catch the flight.

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