United does US biometric deal as Star works on wider platform

July 30, 2019
UNITED and biometric and CLEAR
United Airlines and CLEAR partner to make travel easier. Photo: United.

United Airlines has negotiated a deal to help its frequent flyers more quickly move through US airports.

The carrier has partnered with secure identity company CLEAR to give free or discounted membership to US-based MileagePlus members.

READ: Air France to introduce RFID bag tracking in Paris.

It has also made an equity investment in the biometric security company to bring the system to its hubs Newark Liberty International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport later this northern summer.

It is also supporting efforts by CLEAR — which already operates at  United’s hubs in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles — to open lanes at Chicago O’Hare in the coming months.

CLEAR offers a single biometric ID that automates document checks and allows to verify their identity through “the tap of a finger or a blink of an eye”  in dedicated lanes.

It operates at more than 60 airports, arenas, stadiums and Hertz rental car locations across the US.

It charges an annual membership of $US179 but United will offer the service free to its top tier frequent flyers and at a $US70 discount to Premier Platinum, Gold and Silver members as well as most United credit card holders.

Other MileagePlus members will be able to pick up the annual subscription for $US119.

“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,” said MileagePlus president Luc Bondar.

“CLEAR’s secure and seamless biometric security option creates an expedited travel experience that many of our frequent flyers already use and love.”

The United deal comes as the Star Alliance announced last week that it was working with Japanese electronics giant NEC to develop a biometric platform it says will significantly improve the travel experience of member airlines’ frequent flyers.

The alliance hopes to open its first biometric solution at one of its hub airports in the first quarter of 2020 and said customers who opted to use their biometric data would have a seamless and handsfree passenger experience.

The platform would allow them to use facial recognition to pass through touchpoints within airports such as check-in kiosks, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding gates which traditionally require both a passport and boarding pass, it said.

Star also predicts the platform will help airports and member airlines to increase operational efficiency.

The service will be available to customers who are enrolled in one of the Star Alliance frequent flyer programs and who have authorized the use of their biometric data.