No matter how skilled you are, it is often hard to avoid long lines on a Disney trip.
But the worst line of all on your Orlando vacation may not be for Space Mountain or Tower of Terror. It might actually be at the end of your trip when you are standing at Orlando International Airport (MCO) trying desperately to get through the TSA security checkpoints.
Until two weeks ago, it had been quite a few years since I’d departed from Orlando. I had heard the rumors. Fellow frequent travelers regularly bemoan the notoriously bad airport security lines at MCO. Orlando combines the two worst factors that drive TSA line backup: large crowds and inexperienced travelers.
But all was not lost! Luckily for me, Orlando is one of the 11 major airports (San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), Las Vegas (LAS), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH & HOU), San Antonio (SAT), Dallas (DFW), Orlando (MCO), Baltimore (BWI), Westchester (HPN), and Miami (MIA) coming soon) that offers a way to cut the lines using a service called CLEAR. I’ve had a membership courtesy of CLEAR since this past December and it has worked liked a charm for saving time at my home airport at SFO.
My Orlando CLEAR Experience
What I experienced in Orlando, however, was another level of time-saving. My departing flight from MCO was early Sunday evening in mid-April. Crowds were everywhere as weekend travelers sought to get back home for the school and work week and the last of the spring break crowd filtered out. I saw someone searching for the elite line for Delta flyers, and he was directed to a queue of about 50 people. Not so elite after all.
With CLEAR, I walked straight up to a CLEAR representative who took my membership card and helped me use the CLEAR kiosk to check my fingerprint. The CLEAR employee then escorted me and one other fellow CLEAR passenger around every single line there was and straight into a TSA Precheck checkpoint. Keeping my shoes on and my liquids and laptop in my bag, I walked right through the metal detector. It was honestly that easy.
Using CLEAR, I was completely through the TSA checkpoint in about 3 minutes. I actually think I spend more time taking photos of the scary-looking lines than I did passing through security. I’d estimate I easily saved 45 minutes or more on that day. Instead of worrying whether I would make my flight while waiting in line, I had time to grab food and then sit down at the gate to log into my laptop to complete some work.
CLEAR worked miracles at Orlando Airport. My family and I will be returning to MCO in a few days for me to attend the Disney Social Media Moms conference. Again, we will be heading home at a potentially very busy airport time. I am so relieved knowing that we won’t have to leave super-early for the airport and miss out on valuable park time because we will be using CLEAR.
Try CLEAR for Your Family
Curious about CLEAR? The steps to becoming a CLEAR member are pretty simple. Fill out the signup paperwork online or at a CLEAR airport. Then complete your registration in-person at an airport or other registration location by presenting your passport (plus one other ID) and having an iris and fingerprint scan completed. You then receive a CLEAR card in the mail a week or so later to use on your next trip.
CLEAR costs $179 a year but your spouse or other adult family member can be added for only $50 more. Children under 18 are totally free to use CLEAR lanes which means traveling families don’t have to pay extra to experience this service.
Wondering if the cost makes sense for your traveling family? CLEAR is offering a 2 month free trial to my readers through code CLEAR2M18 so you can experience it for yourself. I highly recommend CLEAR if your summer vacation plans include a trip to Orlando – whether to see the Mouse or to visit other central Florida attractions. That MCO security line is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks to CLEAR for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.