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 competitors—FLO and Vigilant Solutions—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 Verified’s collapse. A statement on the FLO Web site says it “is 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.” Vigilant has posted a similar message on its Web site. In the days following Verified’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 Vigilant’s staffing levels.
As for Verified’s customers, it appears their chances of recovering their annual membership fees—as much as $199 per person—are slim. Verified has announced that “due to the company’s financial condition” it won’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.
There’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 “that adequate privacy protections are in place prior to any disposition of the personally identifiable information of over 165,000 people.”
Now that Registered Traveler’s largest provider has closed shop, what is RT’s future? One of the RT’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 “never truly succeeded in doing what it was supposed to do,” 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 lines—Maguire, a FLO member, used it extensively traveling out of Washington, D.C.—“It never provided the whole package,” Maguire says. “It was not designed just to expedite travel,” he says. Consequently, Maguire believes there is little support, particularly from Congress, TSA, and the airlines, for RT as it now stands. “I think that support for RT, as we now know it, will disappear.”