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Biometric screening at airport could speed up check-in

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Passengers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport could soon be able to speed up their check-in process using their fingerprints and the irises in their eyes.

The city Airport Commission endorsed on Wednesday a contract with a New York-based company to bring its CLEAR biometric system to Lambert. The contract must still be approved by the city Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

People willing to pay up to $179 a year to be identified by their fingerprints and irises would go through the screening at a CLEAR kiosk in the terminal and then be escorted to a special line leading to the Transportation Security Administration employee checking documents. They would then go through the normal security screening like all other passengers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“It just makes the travel process that much easier,” Mitch Nadler, a vice president with Alclear LLC, owner and operator of the CLEAR platform, told the commission. “You go up to the document checker quicker. Nothing about the physical screening changes.”

The proposed three-year contract would pay Lambert $66,000 a year plus 10 percent of the fees paid by residents in the metro area and more than 40 other Missouri and Illinois counties who sign up.

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the system was “more of a consumer convenience” than a way to increase revenue at the airport.

The biometric service is already offered at 34 airports around the country. It has mainly been used in larger hub airports but is expanding to medium-sized airports such as Lambert, she said.

Nadler said his company hoped to begin operating at Lambert in the next few months.

The standard fee is $179, but people with loyalty programs with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines pay nothing or get a discounted rate, he said.

Lambert officials said they had not sought bids on the service because only Alclear responded when other airports went through that process.

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