A Q&A on CLEAR Identity Verification

If you fly and have been in an airport recently, you’ve probably heard about the CLEAR ID verification service.

Learn what CLEAR is and does, so you can determine if it’s right for you, courtesy of clark.com.

What exactly is CLEAR?

CLEAR, a New York-based startup, is a service to help you get through security lines at airports and stadiums faster and more efficiently by verifying your identity ahead of time and linking it to biometric data-like scans of your iris and fingertips.

CLEAR uses biometrics — namely your fingerprint and the iris in your eye — to confirm your identity, rather than old-school forms of ID like driver’s licenses and passports.

CLEAR transforms those biometrics into an encrypted code that is unique to each individual. Every time you check in at a CLEAR location, the system matches your fingerprint and iris scans to your unique code to ensure that it’s really you.

As a result, you’re able to bypass the general security lines at dozens of major airports and some other big sports and concert venues across the country, saving you valuable time in the process.

How does CLEAR work?

There are two stages to the security check at every U.S. airport: Identity verification and a security screening. When you sign up with CLEAR, you use it to bypass the wait in line to present your ID to a TSA agent. Instead, you go to a CLEAR kiosk and scan your eye or fingertip.

Once the system confirms your identity, a CLEAR employee will escort you directly to the security screening, which is usually much faster than standing in the line waiting for the TSA agent.

Although lines can and do form at CLEAR kiosks, they generally move at a much quicker pace than the other lines waiting to get through security.

How much does CLEAR cost?

A CLEAR Plus membership is $179 a year. If you join CLEAR Plus, you can add up to three adult family members to your account for $50 each per year. Children under 18 don’t need an account. They can accompany family members in the CLEAR line for free.

CLEAR has also partnered with two airlines — Delta and United — to offer their frequent flyers discounted memberships.

Delta Diamond Medallion members get free CLEAR membership. Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members can enroll for $109 a year and any non-Medallion SkyMiles member pays just $119. That means that if you are thinking about joining CLEAR, you can save yourself $60 a year simply by becoming a SkyMiles member at no charge.

As for United, MileagePlus Premier 1K members can enroll in CLEAR for free. Premier, Platinum, Gold, and Silver level flyers pay $109 a year, while it will cost Non-Premier flyers $119.

Both airlines also have branded credit cards that could allow you to get a discounted CLEAR membership. If you have one of those cards, check with the issuer to see if you qualify for a discount.

The American Express Green Card also now offers a $100 statement credit if you purchase your membership with the card, which could make your total $79 or less per year.

CLEAR + TSA PreCheck = Even Faster

If you have TSA PreCheck, you can get through security even faster. Where CLEAR expedites your trips through the documents-clearing portion of the process, PreCheck gets you through the physical screening quicker. If you have PreCheck, a CLEAR agent will escort you to the expedited PreCheck lanes once your identity is verified.

It’s important to note, though, that signing up for CLEAR does not automatically get you PreCheck status — they are separate programs.

Where Can You Use CLEAR?

You can use CLEAR at all participating airports and other CLEAR locations, such as stadiums. Check www.clearme.com for participating airports. While a CLEAR Plus membership gives you access to all of them, you can enroll in CLEAR Sports for free to get access to the non-airport venues. Just remember that you will not get the airport benefits with that plan.

Should I Be Worried About Giving My Biometric Data to CLEAR?

To enroll with CLEAR, you have to physically appear at one of their locations, although you can start the process online. CLEAR takes your iris and fingerprint scans. You’ll also have to present a valid driver’s license, U.S. passport, permanent resident card, or U.S. military card. Then you’ll be given a unique personalized quiz based on publicly available information to verify your identity.

So should you be worried about CLEAR knowing this much about you?

According to the company itself, “Privacy is at the center of everything we do at CLEAR and we are fully committed to protecting our members’ information. We never sell or rent personal information. Personal information is only used to deliver a frictionless and secure experience with CLEAR.”

Is CLEAR worth the money?

Obviously, there could be a lot of benefits to being a CLEAR member. But is a membership a good investment for every traveler? As it is fairly expensive, it may only be worth it if you travel more than 10 or 15 times a year. The other thing to consider is if there are CLEAR lanes at the airport or airports you fly in and out of most frequently. If there are not, it may not be worth it.

CLEAR may be a wonderful addition to your toolbox to help you move quicker in your travels. To help you with your ground transportation when you’re traveling, make sure to download our free app, Hoyt-to-Go. You can quickly book, change, check and manage all your car service needs on your phone. To download the app, go to your app store or visit https://www.hoytlivery.com/services/app/.

Source: Clark.com

What to Know If You’re Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As of February 7, more than 31,500 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world.

Starting in Wuhan, China, the virus has rampantly spread to other parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S leading to more than 600 deaths.

As a result, flights and cruises have cancelled their routes and cities are under quarantine. Here is everything you need to know about traveling while coronavirus spreads, courtesy of Travelandleisure.com.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a specific strain of coronavirus called 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. It was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). And 2019-nCoV is the most recent “novel” version found.

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You’ll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.

What should you do to prevent coronavirus?

You can protect yourself from catching coronavirus the same way you’d protect yourself from catching any other virus. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

Which countries are impacted by coronavirus?

As the virus has affected the world, professors from Johns Hopkins University have developed a real-time map to track confirmed cases of coronavirus as it spreads.

Conditions in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected were likened to a wartime scenario this week. The city has been completely quarantined from the rest of China, with transportation links cut. Streets and shelves are empty as residents are urged to go outside only for essential supplies. There have also been two makeshift hospitals put in place to accommodate all patients.

While museums are closed until further notice, China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse.

The region of Macau has completely shut down for two weeks and none of its famous casinos will be open.

The doctor who first discovered this straint of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, has died at age 34 of the disease. China has launched an investigation into his death and as to why according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.

Taiwan announced Thursday it would no longer process online or landing visas for citizens of Hong Kong or Macau. The suspension will continue indefinitely.

In Japan, a total of 25 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. It is the most affected country outside of China; however, no deaths have been reported. Japan’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been laxer than other countries. Tokyo has only imposed an entry ban for travelers who have been to the Hubei Province within the last 14 days or those who have a passport issued from Hubei. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was adamant that the outbreak will not affect the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.

The other most affected Asian countries are, in order, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea.

Australia closed its borders to foreign arrivals who have been in China within the past 14 days. Australians who are arriving home from China are being met with additional health screenings. There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia.

Australia flew out 243 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine on Christmas Island in an immigration detention center, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. has confirmed a total of 12 coronavirus cases since the outbreak The borders have been closed to anyone who has been in China within the last 14 days. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now requires airlines to ask passengers on inbound flights if they have visited mainland China in the past 14 days.

If they have, they are rerouted to screening centers at one of several airports around the country, including New York JFK and Los Angeles International. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination — although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

How are airlines responding?

Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from the World Health Organization.

In a statement, Lufthansa Group (including Austrian Airlines and SWISS) said they will not accept new bookings to China through the end of February, however the airlines will continue to operate flights to Hong Kong. British Airways announced an “immediate” suspension of flights to mainland China. Reuters reported that there are no flights available to China with the airline through the end of February. Air Canada has also temporarily suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

United, American and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, who have suspended mainland China service until April 30.

All airlines will continue to monitor the situation and could change their schedules should there be any change in the situation in China. Many airlines are still operating flights to Hong Kong. Travelers should contact their airline directly for more information.

Airlines are also looking out for their employees as flight attendants on Cathay Pacific were first told to wear masks while working and have now been asked to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and the end of June, due to a “significant” drop in demand for flights.

Thai Airways is practicing extreme precautions as they are spraying down cabins with a disinfectant after each flight.

How are cruises responding?

While cruise lines have released their own safety in how they’re handling the outbreak, isolated incidents have occurred on various ships.

At the time of this writing, at least 61 passengers on a Japanese cruise ship have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The ship was initially quarantined when an 80-year-old passenger boarded in the Japanese port of Yokohama after having been diagnosed. Sickened passengers have been transported to a hospital on the mainland for treatment.

A ship in Italy couldn’t offload passengers last week for fear that two of them had contracted the virus.

On Friday, February 7, a Royal Caribbean cruise docked in Bayonne, N.J. — 20 miles away New York City — with passengers that will be assessed for coronavirus as they deboard. Four passengers have been sent to the hospital, according to NorthJersey.com.

Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak?

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans not to travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

The State Department hasn’t issued any health-related travel advisories against any other Asian countries.

To ensure any upcoming travel plans, calling your hotel and airline directly as well as monitoring updates and alerts will give you the current information.

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/travel-warnings/coronavirus-china-travel-alerts-what-to-know