I have been using (Fly) Clear since mid-January 2009. My Clear membership has saved me on a couple of last minute to the airport, high blood pressure runs to the gate. The ability to skip the amateurs at the TSA security line is wonderful but it is not worth $199 per year. I was fortunate enough to get this year’s membership for free thanks to Starwood. Here are the reason why $199 is not worth it for any traveler:
1. Clear is not available in major cities/airports - take a look at this list. How can Clear expect me or anyone to invest in them if they are not in the US’s #2, #3 and #4 cities. As a frequent commuter in and out of LAX, Clear is no where to be found. I have seen “coming soon” signs forever. Below is the latest screenshot from Clear’s website stating it will be at LAX by winter 2009.
Clear is also not in Chicago or Houston or Dallas which are huge hubs. I can use Clear to get into Candlestick Park but I cannot use it to get through LAX, ORD or DFW security. If I may also add that LAX TSA checkpoint is the worst in the nation. LAX security has limited space available to unpack your personal items before the checkpoint and repack your items after screening. LAX is also a top 5 worst airport in the US.
2. Clear registration requires me to provide all sorts of personal data in exchange for skipping a line. Who are these people fooling? When I use Clear, the agent still requires me to show him/her my Clear ID and match me up against my fingerprint (for some, their retina). What’s the point of giving Clear my fingerprint when I have to provide an ID. Shouldn’t my fingerprint be tied to my ID?
3. When you have airline status, skipping the TSA security line does not really help you much. The $199 membership fee is just too steep for business travelers with status. $199 a year definitely does not make sense for the casual travel. However, if Clear partners with the airlines to offer the following benefits to travelers without status: priority boarding, waiving baggage fee or getting a slightly better seat. Now that is a true value proposition. $199 per year to skip someone once awhile is just not worth it.
4. Increase customer loyalty to gain adoption. I have not seen any referral programs or benefits for me to renew my membership. After what I have pointed out so far, I see no incentive for me to renew my membership when it ends this December.
We have just provided a month worth of free consulting to the Clear team via this post. I look forward to hearing from Clear management as this post can potentially save their company and jobs.