Clear users report delays due to new facial identity verification process

On Nov. 30, Clear began verifying Plus users in preparation for Clear’s NextGen Identity+ technology to enable face as the primary biometric for membership identification.

Currently, Clear automates most users’ identity verification steps in the Transportation Security Administration screening process. As a secure identity platform, Clear allows members to go through a separate security lane with dedicated kiosks rather than waiting in line for a TSA agent to review their license or passport.

“[This] will allow Clear Plus members to verify their identity with their face (instead of iris or fingerprints), eliminating the need for members to stop at a Clear Pod and seamlessly integrating into TSA equipment for friction-free entry into physical screening,” a Clear spokesperson told TPG. “Our vision is to keep you moving through the Clear Lane where you don’t break your stride.”

TPG staffers have been among those asked to participate in this process during recent travels and have reported a delay in passing through security as a result.

Why is this happening?


Last month, Caryn Seidman Becker, Clear CEO, announced that Clear Plus users and verified members would soon be able to identify themselves via their face, eliminating the need to provide additional biometrics or stop at a Clear Pod before being escorted to the TSA lane at airports.

Clear hopes this will allow for a faster Clear experience for users at airports once the program is rolled out fully over the next year.

To use this NextGen Identity+ technology, Clear members must go through a few steps to reverify their identity, starting with creating a one-time password to verify their phone number via an email from Clear.

How the reverification process works

After you verify your phone number, you should receive another email prompting you to bring a valid form of identification (unexpired driver’s license, state ID or passport) the next time you are at the airport to verify your identity in person.

Note that passports will allow for the quickest upgrade experience, per a Clear spokesperson. Once an updated photo is provided, Clear members can use this new technology when available and promoted. For this part of the registration process, Clear advised users to allot a few extra minutes at the airport when they intend to register.

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“Clear members simply need to click the link they received on their phone to begin the process as they head to the airport,” the spokesperson said. “The one-time upgrade process will take just an extra minute or two at a Clear Enrollment Pod to avoid not affecting the Clear verification lane or wait times for travelers.”

Some TPG staffers who are Clear users have said this process significantly slowed them down.

“This definitely slowed me down this weekend at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA),” Becky Blaine, TPG newsletter editor, said. “Since I was running late for my flight, I didn’t have extra time for this, and halfway through the process, I told them I couldn’t wait any longer and told them I would do it next time. They don’t tell you how long it will take and that it requires a new photo.”

Similarly, David Slotnick, senior aviation reporter, found the Clear Lane to be slower for him than the regular TSA PreCheck line lately because of all the people upgrading.

“And it didn’t save properly the first time, so I had to do the upgrade again,” he said about his travel last week at DCA and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

Other TPG staffers, including Madison Blancaflor, senior editor, also recently verified their identity for Clear and said it added a few extra minutes, in line with Clear’s expectations.

“When I went through Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) last week with Clear and PreCheck, I updated my biometrics, but there was no line for Clear Plus,” Madison said. “It added an extra two to three minutes, but seeing as I would have needed to wait at least that long for the PreCheck and/or regular Clear line, I wasn’t mad about it.”

Although Clear said that verifying your identity via a passport would create the quickest, most seamless experience, Ashley Kosciolek, senior cruise reporter, was told their machines couldn’t scan her passport last week at EWR.

“I always travel with my passport as my ID. They asked for my driver’s license because, apparently, the machines can’t scan passports as they can licenses,” Ashley said. “Passports have to be entered manually, which takes more time.”

Bottom line

Regardless of where you are traveling, particularly if it’s over the upcoming holidays, we suggest allotting at least 10-15 extra minutes to verify your identity to continue using Clear.

As of December, Clear is available at 56 U.S. airports, as well as various stadiums and other large venues, and there are nearly 19 million members nationwide.

Reserve powered by Clear, which allows travelers to book timed entry through TSA security based on flight departure time, is currently available at 20 airports across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

An annual membership to Clear costs $189, but some credit cards cover the cost.

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