In the past year, we’ve seen a number of brands enter partnerships as a means of offering new and exciting perks. We’re now seeing a perk that reduces friction in the customer experience in a partnership that is a strong fit for both companies. This is the partnership between United Airlines and CLEAR, a secure-identity company that uses biometrics to build a frictionless and secure world.  
 
The partnership includes free or discounted CLEAR membership pricing for US-based MileagePlus members. United is also making a strategic equity investment in CLEAR that will support the company’s growth, including bringing CLEAR to the airline’s hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport later this summer.  
 
Now, a mere biometric scan can get United fliers through security, reducing the friction in the airport experience. United is also supporting CLEAR’s efforts to open CLEAR lanes at Chicago O’Hare in the coming months. CLEAR already operates at United’s hubs in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles. 
 
Cindy Faust, Chief Commercial Officer & President, Aimia Americas, says of the venture, “By partnering with CLEAR, United is showing they understand that offering enhanced customer experiences is an attractive benefit to travelers that improves the overall journey while also reducing the stress that accompanies going to crowded airports. Personally, I have access to the CLEAR benefit through my Delta status, and I can honestly tell you I’d pay double the retail price based on the convenience factor. Saving time is just as (if not more) important to customers these days as saving them money. Help me make my life a little easier, and I’m going to be loyal. I fully expect this will lead to new opportunities for United beyond the airport experience alone.” 
 
Gina Fleck, Senior Director of Strategy & Insights at HelloWorld, a Merkle Company, adds, “Any time a brand can incorporate a benefit that adds tangible value for their members, like making their travels easier and more convenient, it creates an incredibly compelling reason to stay loyal to that brand. United’s new partnership with CLEAR certainly achieves this. As brands look for ways to differentiate their loyalty program experiences, complementary partnerships are becoming a prevalent and impactful way to strengthen ties with their most valuable members.” 
 
CLEAR and United are offering free CLEAR membership for Global Services and Premier 1K members. In addition, Premier Platinum, Gold, and Silver members (as well as most United credit card members) receive a discounted membership rate of $109, while all other MileagePlus members are eligible for a discounted offer of $119 per year. An annual CLEAR membership retails for $179.  
 
“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,” says Luc Bondar, Vice President of Loyalty and President of MileagePlus at United. “CLEAR’s secure and seamless biometric security option creates an expedited travel experience that many of our frequent flyers already use and love. We’re excited to partner with CLEAR to expand their presence at our hub airports and to provide all MileagePlus members with either free or deeply discounted memberships.” 
 
Caryn Seidman Becker, CLEAR’s Chairman and CEO, adds, “It is an incredibly exciting time in the travel industry, and we’re thrilled to partner with United to deliver easier and more predictable experiences from curb-to-gate and beyond. Our shared focus on the customer experience will enable us to reduce friction at every touchpoint and help travelers enjoy more of what they love.” 
 
After enrollment, CLEAR members enjoy the benefits of experiences at more than 60 airports, arenas, stadiums, and Hertz rental car locations in CLEAR’s nationwide network. CLEAR reduces the overall amount of time customers spend at the airport security checkpoint by automating the document check portion of the TSA process. Members verify their identity with a tap of their finger or blink of an eye in dedicated lanes, enabling them to reach physical screening more quickly at airports across the country.  
 
Andrew Kelly, Partner, ICF Next, comments, “There is a rich partner ecosystem that many brands are tapping into to elevate the customer experience, and those partners are occupying the adjacent, in-between moments that can make or break that journey. Identifying those sticking points, alleviating them through smart partnerships, offers not only monetary opportunities for brands, but also impacts positive sentiment, trust, and emotional loyalty, which can lead to greater advocacy. The travel experience is often considered as having the most friction, teeming with things that can go wrong. Being able to glide through busy airport security lines with the touch of your fingers or a scan of your eyes benefits all involved on many levels.” 
 

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