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/.