Buying Into Biometrics: United Airlines’ CLEAR Path For Airport Security


Airports and efficiency may seem antithetical, but innovations implemented by several major airliners in the U.S. may be addressing this longstanding issue.

United Airlines recently announced an investment in CLEAR, a biometric screening company that eliminates the need for select customers to use a ticket or photo I.D. before security. While this may be a difficult concept to grasp for some travelers, millions of Americans are already familiar with the technology.

“People may not even realize they are using biometrics today. For example, if you have an iPhone and you’re using facial recognition or you’re using your thumb or finger as a way to access your phone, that’s biometrics,” Ken Jenkins, Owner and Founder of Ken Jenkins LLC, said.

CLEAR will debut at United hubs at George Bush Intercontinental in Houston and Newark Liberty International. It will expand to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago this fall.
The biometrics service will be offer increased security by matching faces and fingerprints with U.S. databases, but critics say this opens security concerns of its own.

“I would encourage anyone to do their due diligence around biometrics today. It’s a very accurate system, it does have its limitations, some of those limitations do fall into privacy or security aspect of that. So, I’d like to see more of a global standard before I do it,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins cited the potential risks of multiple vendors hosting personal data, which may be susceptible to cyberattacks and bad actors.

Everything is in testing mode presently according to Jenkins. The industry and passengers alike will continue to weigh privacy concerns.

Other CLEAR partners include Delta, Major League Baseball and Hertz.

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