United Offering New Discounts for CLEAR (Airport Security) While American Blocks Expansion

United has entered into a partnership with CLEAR for expedited security screening. This is surprising because CLEAR is owned, in part, by Delta however United will be taking an equity stake as well.

CLEAR lets you skip the line to have your ID checked, scanning your finger prints instead. That’s especially nice when PreCheck lines are long, and I don’t find giving up my finger prints obtrusive since I did that for Global Entry anyway (and between storing all cell phone geolocation data, mining grocery store receipts, and traffic cameras tracking where you drive we’re well past having any privacy to start with).

Already at over two dozen airports, the program will expand to Houston Intercontinental, and Newark by end of summer and then to Chicago O’Hare in the fall.

United elites and co-brand credit card holders now receive the same discounted rates as similarly-situated Delta members. (Prices went up $20-$30 in April.)

Non-Member $179
General Member $119
Elites and Cardholders $109
Top Elites (1K, Diamond) Free

This partnership should get more people into CLEAR, and means CLEAR will be available in more places. However once CLEAR becomes saturated it will also become less useful.

TSA PreCheck, Philadelphia

American Airlines has chosen to block CLEAR from opening security lanes at all of the terminals they control suggesting that “the best way to speed up the screening process is to invest in new technology, like Computed Tomography, and focus on getting more passengers enrolled in TSA PreCheck.” Although of course it’s overcrowded PreCheck lanes that make CLEAR attractive in the first place.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. American Airlines truly, completely, and actively, hates the people that fly their airline. It’s the only explanation that makes sense

  2. What we need is a super-Trusted Traveler program that would allow respected white-collar travelers to bypass security checks entirely.

    Allow corporate execs, university professors, medical doctors and the like to undergo a thorough background check and mental wellness screening.

    Any stable person of that stature is never going to be a security threat.

  3. I have a hard time thinking I will pay $109 for a year of this even though I fly out of DEN that has CLEAR and I fly 25-30 times per year ($3-4 per use). Why am I so cheap?!? Although my schedule is looking good for me to hit 1K finally this year so it will probably be a moot point. Color me excited!

  4. Jason wrote: “What we need is a super-Trusted Traveler program that would allow respected white-collar travelers to bypass security checks entirely.”

    I’m assuming this was a Swiftian attempt at a joke, but in case you were serious, that is the single worst idea I have seen in a comment thread this year. CLEAR is successful precisely because it’s run by a private entity, and it’s open to any frequent traveler willing to pony up $10/month. The idea of limiting such a program to some bureaucrat’s idea of who qualifies as “respected white-collar” is risible.

    To answer the other question, no credit cards provide any reimbursement for CLEAR.

  5. @Jim In Boulder: Assuming the Diamond is Delta status comparable to 1K. Platinums will not get it free.

  6. Why should AA care about what premium carriers like United and Delta do? Until AA’s contemporaries Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant work a deal with Clear, there would be no reason for AA to do so.

  7. The problem with clear is that they don’t accept foreign passports. They do accept global entry but only if you have a global entry card. Foreigners with global entry, however, get no card. How stupid is that? Welcome to bureaucracy. Its like signing up for a US credit card and instead of getting a physical card, they only email you the credit card number. Stupid only that places where you clear customs abroad want to see your global entry card and otherwise won’t honor it if you cant show a card. which you cant, because you are a foreigner but still enrolled in global entry. STUPID! Back to CLEAR. So they accept local IDs like drivers license and state ID card. But you can buy them for a few bucks on the street and then sign up for clear? Great! I feel so much safer now. Clear also doesn’t accept TWIC, which is the standard card for TSA employees and probably other airport workers. It’s just about to spend money here and there, and more there and more here and at the end, it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make it safer, but you spend a whole lot of money *thumbs up*

  8. Soooo CLEAR verifies identity rather than a TSA agent? (sorry if I am clueless) After verification, do people go to Pre-Check or the regular line. (Its not stated in the blog post) To me, its worthless if I still need to remove my shoes, computer and toiletries.

  9. @amapas
    After verification you go to front of pre-check lane if you already have pre-check, otherwise you go to the front of the regular line.

    Clear does not include pre-check – you have to qualify for that separately. Clear just helps you jump the line.

  10. It is worth it if your airport has long pre-check lines. If not, it is worth it if it is free (e.g., for 1Ks).

  11. $109 a year just isn’t that bad. I just renewed at $119 under the Delta plan (oh well, I lost $10).

    But it was such a pleasure to have CLEAR at LAX this past weekend. The PreCheck line extended for miles. I walked right through.

    It has NOTHING to do with security.

    You get the front of the line, but there is one more benefit:
    Nobody has to go through the show of scrutinizing your ID or boarding card. There are no displays of special lights and magnifiers, no scribbling or highlighting, and nobody asking you to pronounce your name. To me, that’s worth the $109.

    Their biggest flaw is that they’re not in enough airports. It shouldn’t be up to American; it should be up to the airport.

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