NBTA, Flo Attempt To Revive Reg. Traveler
Since dominant Registered Traveler provider Verified Identity Pass in late June abruptly halted operations, some customers have sued the company for breach of contract, one of its competitors, Vigilant Solutions, also folded, and the remaining provider, Flo Corp., suspended operations at the only airport where it operated.
However, Flo Corp. and the National Business Travel Association are advocating a revival of Registered Traveler, though they face an uphill battle in courting airports and customers to rejoin.
NBTA sent letters to each of the 21 U.S. airports that had hosted the program, "urging their cooperation in reestablishing Registered Traveler lanes."
NBTA president Kevin Maguire in the letter said, "NBTA urges airports to work in coordination with the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. airlines to reopen Registered Traveler operations with Flo or other qualified vendors."
In a letter sent in July to its Registered Traveler members, Flo Corp. chairman and CEO Glenn Argenbright said, "We have been working with our investors, partners and other industry stakeholders, including the TSA, to restore the Registered Traveler network."
While Argenbright said Flo is the "only TSA-approved Registered Traveler services provider still in operation," the provider also had "suspended enrollments, renewals and airport operations until we can present cardholders with some evidence that the network is going to be restored." Flo operated the program at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Flo senior vice president and managing partner Fred Fischer at press time said the operator was nearing an agreement with a large airport to relaunch lanes, though he would not disclose which airports plan to reengage.
Since its launch at Orlando International Airport in 2005, Verified Identity Pass grew to become the dominant player in an emerging business that sought to speed through airport security passengers who elected to pay an annual fee and undergo a threat assessment. Verified Identity Pass ran the Clear program at 18 of the 21 airports in the United States that hosted Registered Traveler lanes and helped spawn competitors like Flo Corp. and Vigilant Solutions.
Vigilant Solutions on July 20 discontinued operations at Jacksonville International Airport and Louisville International Airport—the only two airports where it operated.
Vigilant officials could not be reached for comment, though the company's Web site at press time said little but, "Vigilant Solutions is exploring possibilities at this time, please check back for updated information."
Asked whether Jacksonville International Airport would consider relaunching the program with another supplier, a spokesperson said, "Obviously our priority now is to close out the relationship with Vigilant, because they owe us money. Any enhanced program would not be in the immediate future, not because we feel burned, but just because we need to work through this issue."
Other airports discussing Registered Traveler with BTN diverged in their receptivity to the program. A spokesperson for Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, which launched Clear lanes last year, said even without Registered Traveler lanes the average wait time is "less than 10 minutes," following the expansion of security screening checkpoints. "As we continue to implement programs that will enhance our customer service, we will study the best use of the former Clear space for our customers," the spokesperson said, "but no decision has been made concerning implementing another Registered Traveler program at this time."
A spokesperson for the Washington Airports Authority, which operates Washington Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport—both of which hosted Clear lanes—said, "At this time, we are not pursuing a continuation of the Registered Traveler program with other providers."
New York's Albany International Airport seemed more receptive to the possibility of continuing the program in some form.
"Clear provided our travelers with an outstanding service," an Albany International spokesperson said. "We are continually searching for new methods to improve the travel experience of our passengers, and we would be most interested in examining new proposals that would advance passenger screening."
Verified Identity Pass' cessation of operations came in the form of a sudden notice on its Web site on June 22 that read, "Clear lanes are no longer available."
According to discussions with airports and others, the Clear lanes were swiftly shut down during the 24 hours following that posting.
The company on its Web site, now an invalid URL, said it had been "unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations." Verified said it would not offer refunds to members of the program.
In the month since it shut down, at least three former Verified clients filed lawsuits claiming breach of contract, seeking refunds and requesting that personal data used to join the program be protected.