The demise of Verified Identity Pass Inc. has left the Registered Traveler program in disarray.
Verified, which under the Clear program operated fast-lane airport security checkpoints in 18 locations across the United States, including high-profile airports in Orlando, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., went belly up at the end of June. Its closure leaves two RT competitorsâ€”FLO and Vigilant Solutionsâ€”still in operation, but only at airports in Reno, Nev. (FLO); Jacksonville, Fla., and Louisville, Ky. (Vigilant). Previously, FLO and Vigilant customers were able to use the Clear-operated fast lanes.
There has been little word from the two surviving companies in the aftermath of Verifiedâ€™s collapse. A statement on the FLO Web site says it â€śis currently working with other participants in the industry as well as the Transportation Security Administration to analyze the implications of this announcement and to formulate a plan for the advancement of the program.â€ť Vigilant has posted a similar message on its Web site. In the days following Verifiedâ€™s announcement, efforts to reach representatives of both companies for comment were unsuccessful.
According to a report in the Florida Times-Union, during a June 29 meeting of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, members of the board of directors were told that Vigilant owes the JAA more than $200,000 in outstanding bills and that the authority has received complaints about Vigilantâ€™s staffing levels.
As for Verifiedâ€™s customers, it appears their chances of recovering their annual membership feesâ€”as much as $199 per personâ€”are slim. Verified has announced that â€śdue to the companyâ€™s financial conditionâ€ť it wonâ€™t be issuing refunds. As a result, a group of Verified customers, represented by Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP of San Francisco, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Verified in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Thereâ€™s also the question of what happens to the confidential personal information provided by Verified customers to the company over the years. In a letter to the Transportation Security Administration, Bennie Thompson, D.-Miss., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has asked about the role TSA will play in ensuring â€śthat adequate privacy protections are in place prior to any disposition of the personally identifiable information of over 165,000 people.â€ť
Now that Registered Travelerâ€™s largest provider has closed shop, what is RTâ€™s future? One of the RTâ€™s biggest boosters over the past several years has been the National Business Travel Association, but NBTA President Kevin Maguire laments the fact that Registered Traveler â€śnever truly succeeded in doing what it was supposed to do,â€ť which, Maguire says, was to reduce security risks while streamlining the screening process.
And while RT did, at times, work well at getting members through security linesâ€”Maguire, a FLO member, used it extensively traveling out of Washington, D.C.â€”â€śIt never provided the whole package,â€ť Maguire says. â€śIt was not designed just to expedite travel,â€ť he says. Consequently, Maguire believes there is little support, particularly from Congress, TSA, and the airlines, for RT as it now stands. â€śI think that support for RT, as we now know it, will disappear.â€ť