United Airlines announced a partnership with CLEAR this week, expanding its participation in the biometric security screening program. The carrier will make a strategic investment in the company, including the addition or expansion of CLEAR locations at the carrier’s US hub airports.
Our new partnership with CLEAR is another proof point of how we are always looking to improve traveling with United, in this case by making the airport experience more convenient for customers. CLEAR’s secure and seamless biometric security option creates an expedited travel experience that many of our frequent flyers already use and love. We’re excited to partner with CLEAR to expand their presence at our hub airports and to provide all MileagePlus members with either free or deeply discounted memberships.– Luc Bondar, vice president of loyalty and president of MileagePlus at United
Hubs at Newark and Houston will see CLEAR lanes added starting later this summer. United is also supporting efforts by its new partner to open operations at Chicago-O’Hare in the coming months. CLEAR already operates at United’s hubs in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles.
The companies declined to disclose financial terms of the deal.
The United/CLEAR deal is separate from a Star Alliance effort to further the use and sharing of biometric data across member airlines when passengers so choose. That program was announced last week.
A CLEAR Loyalty Play
The partnership also extends to members of United’s MileagePlus loyalty program. Effective immediately Global Services and Premier® 1K® members are eligible for a complimentary CLEAR membership. Other elites and most co-brand credit card holders receive a discounted rate of $109/year. All other MileagePlus members are eligible for a discounted offer of $119 per year. An annual CLEAR membership retails for $179. More details on the discounts are available at united.com/clear.
We’re thrilled to partner with United to deliver easier and more predictable experiences from curb-to-gate and beyond. Our shared focus on the customer experience will enable us to reduce friction at every touchpoint and help travelers enjoy more of what they love.– Caryn Seidman Becker, CLEAR’s chairman and chief executive officer
United joins Delta Air Lines as a strategic equity investor in the CLEAR operation. The new discounted rates from United match those available to SkyMiles members, including Medallion discounts. The SkyMiles discounts were $20-30 greater earlier this year.
Is CLEAR Worth It??
The CLEAR program requires enrollment and biometric data to get started. Once a passenger’s data is in the system they can bypass the TSA ID check at airports with a CLEAR lane. The biometric process handles the identity validation and then passengers are escorted past the ID check to either the PreCheck or regular security lane, depending on their eligibility. Is that worth the cost and data sharing?
Some travelers swear by it, with Denver, Orlando and Washington-Dulles airports often cited as great time savers. Others see PreCheck (or Global Entry) as a smarter investment for a similar fee, lasting much longer and more readily available for free through credit card partners. It doesn’t hurt to have for free, assuming the biometric data risk is tolerable. Paying for it will be a case-by-case decision for most travelers.