With This CLEAR Update, I’ll Be A Member For Life

by SharonKurheg

Joe and I first considered getting CLEAR in the spring of 2018. We justified it because airport lines were getting longer, and we had a few ways to get some nice discounts on the program.

We finally joined the program a few months later but our introduction to it was less than ideal. In fact, after about 6 months, we strongly considered not renewing our membership. For a variety of reasons though, we wound up keeping it.

If you’re a member of CLEAR, you know that they have 2 ways to “make sure that you’re you” – they use biometric scanning technology, either of your fingertips or via a retina scan. For the longest time, I didn’t have the “eyeball scan” in there.  I have a growth disorder, am very, very short (4’6”) and the scanner to get your “eyeball readings” didn’t go low enough to capture the retinas of someone that little (they’re not the only ones…you should have seen my pictures during the early days of the Global Entry kiosks…those cameras took a picture of the top of my head. Every damn time. I would have taken a picture of it because it was so funny, if cameras were allowed to be used in that area. But you know what? The agents always let me through! I guess I “matched” the photo LOL!).

To be honest, I didn’t mind that I couldn’t use CLEAR’s retina scan; I just used the finger scan all of the time. Some things are “one size fits most” and I’m not always part of the “most.” No big deal; welcome to my world.

Anyway, about 9 months ago, something amazing happened and I could (almost, kinda sorta) use the eye scanner. It was a nice change of pace, but since I had to stand X distance away AND stand on my tippy toes, I still did the finger scans, just because it was easier.

And then I went to the airport the other day and a miracle happened.

I got up to the CLEAR kiosks and the worker said, “We got a new machine! Look!”

She pressed a button on the side of the CLEAR scanner and, like magic, the scanner started going…down. It was getting shorter! At its very shortest point, it was a good 8 to 12 inches shorter than a “typical” CLEAR screen.

And I walked up to it and BOOM, I used the retina scanner with no problem whatsoever. Y’all, I had THE BIGGEST grin on my face!

Some people who have dwarfism are significantly shorter than I am, and the really little Little People still aren’t going to be able to use the retina display. However, I think even the shortest probably should now be able to reach the finger scanners when the CLEAR machine is in its lowest position.

So far I’ve come across these new height-adjustable CLEAR machines at MCO (going towards Terminal A) and at Terminal 1/Harvey Milk Terminal of SFO. The CLEAR employees at SFO suggested they’re rolling them out at busier airports and terminals first.

I’m not naive enough to think CLEAR did this out of the goodness of their hearts. I mean, let’s face it, there are only roughly 30,000 people with dwarfism in the U.S. But there are over 3.5 million wheelchair users – and I know from my past career as an occupational therapist that many of them, when in their wheelchairs, sit at approximately 4 and a half feet tall.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone – perhaps someone who doesn’t have good control of their arms and hands (so they can’t easily use the finger scanner) but has good head control (so they could use the retina scanner, if they could reach it) – presented them with a discrimination lawsuit under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

But who knows – maybe they really did do it to be more inclusive. 🙂

Whatever the case, I always appreciate it when a company makes changes so that it’s more accessible. On a purely personal note, when the changes make something so I can use it like everybody else, well, they just got my alliance for life. 🙂

The scanners that can be made shorter are housed on square-shaped poles with a taller base of support (I guess to house the hydraulics or whatever system they use), as opposed to round poles and a flatter base – that’s the only way you can see the difference at quick glance. If you notice one of these “new” CLEAR machines, please let me know so I can see how fast they’re expanding across the country, OK? Thanks!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Andre May 25, 2022 - 4:25 pm

Congratulations! I can see your smile from here.

CHRIS May 25, 2022 - 11:31 pm

I’m pretty sure you’d be a “member for life” anyway. Any number of cards and FF programs either comp or reimburse the fee…..either of which I’m sure you qualify for.


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