As a Platinum Starwood member, I was given a one year membership to Clear. I have seen this at the airports I frequently travel to/from: SFO and JFK but never really thought about investing $199 and giving up my privacy. If you don’t live in NYC, DC Metro or Bay Area, I really don’t see the value in joining Clear - here’s the list of cities (I am still baffled how some of these airports made the list). Additionally, I am also a Premier Exec on UAL and Gold on Delta. Both airlines are pretty good about letting you skip the crowd.
So… I signed up to Clear via the SPG link right before Christmas. The Signup on the Clear website was straight forward. It took about 10 minutes to join. Upon completing the web registration forms, I found out I needed to go to the airport to complete my enrollment at a Clear kiosk at the airport. To complete the enrollment, I will need to present 2 of the 3 items: US drivers license; passport; birth certificate.
The additional enrollment requirements shocked me. I think the website should be more upfront about the join process - especially at the start of the process. Had I known it required the 2 step enrollment process, I’d have not joined (or paid if I was a paying customer). Then again, this was a free membership… can’t beat free. I also immediately went on Autopostmark to schedule a reminder to cancel at the 1st of December 2009 — I also added my buddy who was also joining the same time to this free awesome reminder service.
I was at JFK a day after Christmas at about 7PM. Since I knew no one would be at the airport, I brought my passport to complete the enrollment process at the Clear kiosk. When I got to the Clear kiosk, the Clear representative told me they had shut down the kiosk and it was not a self registration process. A Clear agent needed to assist me with the registration.
After flying around for another week, I ended up in SFO on new year’s eve. I went to the Clear kiosk before heading out to the City by the Bay. I went to the Clear kiosk all prepared with my passport and drivers license. The Clear representative then asked me for my Clear account number as if I had the 16 digit account number memorized.
The Clear representative finally located my account number and I was ready to go. The 2nd step to the enrollment process required me to provide: thumb prints, index finger prints, hand prints and retina scan. It felt like I had completed an FBI Self Assessment. Since I don’t have much to hide, I don’t mind all the data Clear has on me. I am some what concerned about what Clear will do with the information. I am also surprised to see a Clear machine in the liberal minded Bay area.
The Clear kiosks were high tech but filled with bugs. It took several tries to get my thumb prints and retina scanned. I was told that I will receive a Clear card with my photo and security chip on it in the next two weeks. To use the Clear line, I will have to provide the Clear card plus a finger print.
I am not impressed with the enrollment process. Lets hope the security clearance process is more efficient.