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Skip the Security Line? How to Avoid Screening Hell at Airports and Stadiums

July 25, 2017, 2:14 PM UTC

I’m not sure when it happened, but the stadium experience now feels like the airport. Case in point: I attended a baseball game in Detroit this month, but missed the first pitch because I was stuck outside in a line waiting as a uniformed guard poked around people’s bags with a stick.

These rituals can feel pointless—skeptics call it “security theater“—and are so annoying that it’s tempting to just stay home instead. But the good news is technology is helping a growing number of people skip security lines altogether.

In Detroit, for instance, the Tigers this week became the latest to introduce screening by CLEAR, a private company that relies on fingerprint and iris scanning to speed up security at stadiums and airports.

The Tigers became the sixth Major League Baseball team to offer CLEAR (the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have had it in since 2015), while the Miami Heat of the NBA have signed on as well.

Tigers fans, who can sign up for free, will be able to go to special CLEAR gates where a finger tap will let them into a no-line area. They will still have to walk through a metal detector and scan a ticket, but the company promises there will be little or no waiting.

A similar phenomenon is underway at dozens of airports where CLEAR lets travelers skip the dreaded security lines. (One of my editors swears by it, saying it has saved him from missing flights.) Meanwhile, Delta and other airlines are letting customers use their fingerprints in lieu of boarding passes at airports like Reagan National in Washington, D.C. and to enter special access lounges.

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The airport systems, however, require the CLEAR passenger to sign up for a paid subscription of $15 a month. As such, the free CLEAR lines at stadiums like the one in Detroit appear to be a loss-leader to encourage people to sign up for the larger program that includes airports.

In the case of the stadiums, a CLEAR executive told Fortune the program will provide data to help teams better manage the pre-game crowds and, eventually, to create lists of “trusted fans” similar to the “trusted travelers” databases used at airports. Meanwhile, a rival company called Tascent is also deploying iris and face scans in overseas airports.

All of this raises concerns about privacy at a time when the rise of biometric technology is making it easy for governments and companies to record people’s movements using their eyes or the shape of their face. But given the alternative—standing in interminable lines in an airport or outside stadiums—it’s likely many people will trade privacy for convenience.

This story was updated to note the Miami Heat are currently using CLEAR. An earlier version said it was coming in the future.