Why it matters: Using biometric data to screen passengers shortens time waiting in line at the expense of having your iris or fingerprint stored in a database. This information could be misused or stolen, but many passengers find the convenience worth the risk. As such, United Airlines is expanding the screening option to more airport hubs.
United Airlines has just announced that it will be expanding its biometric screening. The program is intended to make boarding more streamlined and efficient for the airport and quicker for the passenger. To facilitate the expansion, United has invested an unspecified amount in biometric identification company Clear. Clear uses fingerprints and iris scans instead of traditional ID checks.
As part of the program, United will be bringing Clear lanes to Newark Liberty International and Houston George Bush International Airports. Chicago’s O’Hare will also be added in the coming months.
The airline will also be offering some discounts on the Clear boarding program. Membership usually costs $179 per year. Global Services and Premier 1K members can now get the service for free. Those with a United Platinum, Gold, or Silver card can get it for $109 per year. MileagePlus can get the service for $119 annually.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Clear currently operates in over 30 airports, including Denver, Los Angles, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles. Other venues like stadiums, arenas, and some Hertz car rental offices also use Clear’s technology.
The chief benefit is shorter wait times for passengers. If you have ever had to stand a TSA line at some of the larger airports, you know how long that can take. However, some are concerned over the privacy issues tech like this raises.
As we have seen in the past, airlines are not immune to data breaches. There are also fears that the TSA or other law enforcement could use the data unconstitutionally. United assures passengers that the system is safe and secure.
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