Triangle Trip

Tag: fly clear issues

Why (fly) Clear failed?

by on Jun.24, 2009, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

Clear was a good concept. Pay $199 for membership to quickly get through airport security. So what went wrong? (aside from not fixing issues highlighted by yours truly from a previous post). Below are the reasons:

1.  Clear was trying to be something they are not. Clear wanted to participate in TSA-related activities but didn’t have the authority to do the job. Clear couldn’t get you pass security any faster than a traveler with airline status because Clear personnel couldn’t perform screening like a TSA agent. Clear only allowed you to skip the first TSA checkpoint – the TSA person matching  your boarding pass against your driver license/ID. You still had to go through the same TSA scanners, take off your shoes, remove your belt, show liquids, etc. And you’d have to wait for the leisure travelers to get their acts together after the screening process to repack. So Clear probably saved you 2 minutes tops – not to mention you may lose a few minutes because the fingerprint authentication machine didn’t work properly.

2.  Too much talk (marketing) and no execution. I have been getting spammed by Clear since its inception. I was also  spammed as a Clear member to get other members to join Clear. I also see tons of Clear marketing people handing out flyers at airports where Clear operates (mostly JFK). What’s the point of handing out flyers at airports when most of the people there are either Clear customers already or will never pay $200 a year because they are vacationers. Spending all the money on ineffective marketing campaings as opposed to focusing on launching airports led to Clear’s failure (see my previous post regarding issues). All that money in the bank should have gone to launch LAX and other important airport hubs which can ultimately drive membership (aka: revenue). I had a Clear membership but couldn’t use it half the time because I am a frequent traveler out of one of the busiest airports in the world (LAX and ORD). What’s the benefit of being a Clear member when I can quickly get through Indianapolis airport security when there are no lines?

3.  Poor leadership and management. What’s the point of gathering all my personal data when it is not necessary? Why do I see 4 to 8 people at Clear kiosks when the registration process and check-in process should be easy and straight forward? I found the registration process to be extremely cumbersome and unnecessary. Clear did not need my fingerprints to validate my identity. I believe two government issued IDs is sufficient proof. Investment in the fingerprint and eye scanning machines were a waste of shareholder funds. Furthermore, it took two people to register me at SFO.

Instead of wasting all the money and closing up shop now, Clear had a perfect chance to save itself. All Clear management had to do was read Triangle Trip and my open letter to the US Homeland Security Chief and TSA (see post). We sincerely hope the airlines are reading our posts as they are important feedback to the industry. I am sure Clear will also be a business case study at some B-school down the road… here’s a free research paper for the kiddies!

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Clear is Now Opaque

by on Jun.23, 2009, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

Today I received this email from Clear:

At 11:00 p.m. PST today, Clear will cease operations. Clear’s parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.

After today, Clear lanes will be unavailable.
Clear Customer Support

Good riddance.  Clear was practically useless.  See Captain G’s post on this.  The best thing I got out of Clear was a free Gold membership to Regus, and that in itself isn’t all that great.  Good thing I didn’t pay for my Clear membership.

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(Fly) Clear needs to address the following issues to stay in business

by on Mar.04, 2009, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

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.

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