What Is CLEAR NextGen Identity+?

What Is CLEAR NextGen Identity+?

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CLEAR is a technology company that helps with expediting clearing security at select US airports. The company stores the biometric data of members, allowing them to (typically) skip the ID check, and get straight into the security line. Combined with TSA PreCheck, this is the best setup you can have for clearing security in the US.

If you’re a member of CLEAR Plus, you probably received an email from the company about “upgrading” to the company’s new NextGen Identity+ system. The email isn’t very clear about what exactly is changing, so I wanted to cover those details in this post.

CLEAR NextGen Identity+ offers facial recognition

Currently CLEAR uses biometric data to verify the identity of passengers. Specifically, you have to go up to one of the CLEAR kiosks, and then use either your iris or fingerprint in order to verify who you are.

Personally I always choose the iris option, since I prefer a contactless experience whenever possible. However, I do find the system to be a bit finicky, as I often have to stare at the screen for an extended period of time before it recognizes me.

Fortunately CLEAR is upgrading the technology it uses to verify the identity of members. In 2024, CLEAR is moving toward using facial recognition. If this works as promised, it should make CLEAR operate significantly more smoothly, since there won’t be a need to go up to a kiosk anymore, but rather facial technology can quickly verify your identity. As CLEAR describes it, this will allow members to be verified in a way where you “don’t break your stride.”

At many airports we’ve seen CLEAR have quite some queues, so hopefully this change will make things move more quickly.

CLEAR kiosks will be a thing of the past, eventually

How to “upgrade” to CLEAR NextGen Identity+

CLEAR Plus members are required to “upgrade” to the new NextGen Identity+ system over the next year. If you’re a member, you should have received an email prompting you to upgrade to the new program.

CLEAR is rolling out NextGen Identity+

In the email you received, you should have been asked to verify your phone number. You just have to enter your phone number, and then have a code sent to that number, at which point you’ll be verified.

CLEAR is rolling out NextGen Identity+

The next step is that starting November 30, 2023, you’re supposed to bring a valid form of ID (such as a passport, state ID, or driver’s license) to a CLEAR kiosk at an airport, to complete the one-time upgrade to NextGen Identity+.

Why do you need to provide an ID again, given that CLEAR already has ID on file for its members? CLEAR explains that “this enhanced standard builds on our multi-factor enrollment process and now includes data directly from the issuing source.”

Note that even once you verify your identity, you won’t necessarily immediately be able to start using the new technology. Instead, this will be rolled out at airports throughout 2024, presumably once most (or all?) members are verified.

Bottom line

CLEAR is making updates to how it verifies the identity of members. Starting at some point in 2024, the company will no longer use biometric data like iris or fingerprint scans, but instead will use facial recognition. Existing members will need to verify their identity at a CLEAR kiosk in the coming months, in order to be able to start using this technology.

What do you make or CLEAR moving to NextGen Identity+?

Conversations (29)
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  1. Mike Guest

    We should all be scared of this technology. Saw this coming a long time ago.

  2. Seth Guest

    Why do they require verification of a cell phone number? How is that connected to the purpose of CLEAR? If I prove my identity with my passport and iris scan, how does them having my cell phone number make any difference?

    1. Jonathan Guest

      You have to remember that CLEAR is a business first, and they provide a service to both you and the TSA. The cell phone number verification has zero to do with your identification verification, but, like your credit card information, it has everything to do with their business side of the house. Your phone number, email, credit card, etc. are all business data tied to your subscription to their service.

  3. Seth Guest

    CLEAR is being very cagey about the details behind this "upgrade," and that bothers me. The email message was very vague, and when I tried chatting with CLEAR customer support, the agent parroted back the same vague language and then disconnected the chat as soon as I pushed for more detail.

    The obfuscation raises red flags. Unless the company starts being more open about this change, this may lead me not to renew my CLEAR...

    CLEAR is being very cagey about the details behind this "upgrade," and that bothers me. The email message was very vague, and when I tried chatting with CLEAR customer support, the agent parroted back the same vague language and then disconnected the chat as soon as I pushed for more detail.

    The obfuscation raises red flags. Unless the company starts being more open about this change, this may lead me not to renew my CLEAR membership when it expires next year.

    The cost-benefit of CLEAR is debatable anyway. I've had to show my ID the past six times I've used CLEAR, and the wait has been no shorter than the regular Pre-Check line more than half the time recently.

    1. Amber Guest

      This completely! I had a similar experience today. I wanted to understand this “upgrade” before I agreed to anything and she couldn’t explain anything and was pushing me to scan my ID. I’m going cancel Clear. I don’t trust the vague language and don’t want to give a private company permission to add me to whatever database they are building. (I recognize they already have my fingerprints and Iris scan but full facial recognition is a step too far for me.)

    2. Sam Kim Guest

      Ime, If you raise any questions to the clear rep about the "upgrade" the next time you pass through a checkpoint, they'll direct you to call can cancel. There are few answers to be found...

  4. Lee Guest

    From what I read, this is supposed to let you just walk down the Clear line and it will recognize you from the ‘face ID’ scan. There will be a Clear person at the end with a tablet with all the ‘cleared’ (sorry) people on it and that is all that will be needed. No pods, no process needed. Sorta like the newest Global Entry.

  5. upstater Guest

    Clear should offer RFID implants. Easier, simpler. DOD does it, so it must be ok.

  6. AD Diamond

    So... the original reason I got Clear was because of ATL. The precheck lines there could be (and still are) ridiculous. And now the clear lines there are getting ridiculous. And a faster clear process at ATL won't help on the days when the line is long because the clear runners have to wait to get the pax through the TSA check because the actual screening lanes are backed up. That's not always the case....

    So... the original reason I got Clear was because of ATL. The precheck lines there could be (and still are) ridiculous. And now the clear lines there are getting ridiculous. And a faster clear process at ATL won't help on the days when the line is long because the clear runners have to wait to get the pax through the TSA check because the actual screening lanes are backed up. That's not always the case. In other airports the bottleneck is getting to the TSA agent as they are switching between clear and pre-check (or regular) pax. Rarely is the line truly due to the actual clear process being the bottleneck.

    I think the real reason for the change has been the process failures at clear. They' built a new process that DHS will accept so they don't have to go to 100% id check. I can't speak to the accuracy of the current front end identity verification process, but I've seen clear staff dismiss the random prompts and skipping the TSA id verification. And last week at SEA where they have a slighly different process at Clear, a individual got to the TSA agent with no clear rep with them and they had to scramble to figure out who verified them. The TSA agent told them to get it together and they laughed and mocked the TSA agent. Not a good look and a great way to kill the program.

  7. Anthony Guest

    Clear needs to be shut down. Its a ridiculous expansion of security theater to a private for-profit grift. Zero legitimate place in our airports. Use the space and resources that the blatant cash grab monopolizes to expand Precheck.

  8. Dan Guest

    Clear is a terrible product. It’s laggy. It’s slow. It doesn’t save time unless you don’t hhave pre-check. Just get pre-check and don’t bother with Clear.

    1. tim Guest

      They are different products. One compliments the other.

  9. Anonymous Guest

    They want to verify your ID because they've had so many issues with not so great employees not doing their job correctly (or legally).

    They want to make sure the person who's been registered is really the right person, although this has (sorta) already been happening with a 50% "random" ID check with TSA even after checking in with clear.

  10. Santastico Diamond

    I hope this stops the “random” iD check which in my case happens 8 times out of 10 so there is nothing random about it.

    1. Maths Guest

      Technically random does not imply frequency. Could still be random if they picked 99% for it

    2. hartd8 Member

      so true almost everytime = ID check

    3. Sam kim Guest

      Probably won't happen immediately. This will be a couple of years-long process to show DHS that there are no false positives ie peoole who are not who they say they are passing through a clear checkpoint whether by machine error or human error or malfeasance. Trust, once broken with DHS, will take time to rebuild. Yet clear.me knew when their issue created random id checks by tsa on significant proportions of their customer base it...

      Probably won't happen immediately. This will be a couple of years-long process to show DHS that there are no false positives ie peoole who are not who they say they are passing through a clear checkpoint whether by machine error or human error or malfeasance. Trust, once broken with DHS, will take time to rebuild. Yet clear.me knew when their issue created random id checks by tsa on significant proportions of their customer base it would create a friction that would potentially cause churn and dampen growth. So this is their shot to fix that and reduce friction...by asking for more of your data.

    4. Sam Kim Guest

      And also, as any current clear member has seen, holiday travel in December '23 and January '24, probably through Presidents day or spring break is going to suck a little more because every single clear member is being forced through new process at their next visit to a clear checkpoint.

  11. AdamH Guest

    Clear needs to die or at least have some real innovation. Their model is broken and any airport that pushes them vs pushing for more TSA lanes, staffed by all the runners Clear has to employ, is corrupted to the core.

  12. flyingglofer Guest

    I didn't receive any emails, etc..., but flying out of JFK on 11/22, I had to scan in my passport, do an additional iris scan & answer several identity verification questions. Back in late August, my wife, who is on my family plan, had the same thing happen to her going out of LGA. I was under the impression that this was related to the TSA requiring additional identity checks from Clear members, but after...

    I didn't receive any emails, etc..., but flying out of JFK on 11/22, I had to scan in my passport, do an additional iris scan & answer several identity verification questions. Back in late August, my wife, who is on my family plan, had the same thing happen to her going out of LGA. I was under the impression that this was related to the TSA requiring additional identity checks from Clear members, but after reading this, I'm wondering if it was related to Identity+. In both instances, the Clear lanes were very understaffed with the TSA Pre lanes being much shorter. We're still on the fence about renewing in 24, as lately, 9 times out of 10, The TSA Pre Lanes are the same or shorter. That's not factoring in that some of the airports I deal with don't have Clear.

  13. LarryB Guest

    This week while traveling through ATL, i used Delta's new digital ID, and zoomed past folks waiting in the Clear Precheck line. TBH, I don't even remember signing up for the Delta digital ID, and I'm not sure of the details, but it seemed to already be using the same kind of facial recognition that Clear is adding.

    In any case, I'm wondering if this new technology offered by airlines will eliminate the need for Clear?

    1. AD Diamond

      @Larry, you opted it to digital ID at some point when you checked in for a flight from ATL on DL. It can be faster that Clear some days -- others it's a wash. But it's only DL and only ATL at the moment.

  14. TravelinWilly Diamond

    "...so hopefully this change will make things move more quickly."

    I'm not sure about that.

    At Dulles, as an example, just before when the evening banks of flights go out (and when the TSA Pre Check line is just as long as the Clear line), I'm not sure that a faster Clear experience is going to matter much.

  15. John G Guest

    @Ben,

    It has to do with weeding out synthetic identities. Previously, they would rely on credit report headers (name, dob, address history) to verify identities- hence those credit report generated security questions. So it would be very easy for someone to create a person "on paper" then use a fake id to gain access to clear.

    If they are truly cross referencing DL and Passport data "with the source" this should close that loophole.

  16. tda1986 Diamond

    "use either iris or biometric data in order to verify who you are"

    An iris scan is just another type of biometric data.

  17. Pete Diamond

    So I verified my identity online last week and I took my passport to Clear in MIA over this weekend. I wasn’t sure how this whole thing worked and I don’t think the staff there knew too much as well.

    They initially scanned my iris but when they realized I wanted to “upgrade” I was led to one of the other kiosks to scan my passport and then reupdate my personal info.
    Then I...

    So I verified my identity online last week and I took my passport to Clear in MIA over this weekend. I wasn’t sure how this whole thing worked and I don’t think the staff there knew too much as well.

    They initially scanned my iris but when they realized I wanted to “upgrade” I was led to one of the other kiosks to scan my passport and then reupdate my personal info.
    Then I had to rescan my iris…and then went to the TSA where they were taking facial scans with my passport. I don’t know what part of the above will change for the upgrade. Very confused.

    1. Lee Guest

      All the articles on this say it starts 11/30. And I know tons of people that have not received emails. I doubt any site is doing the facial version until then. You might have just gotten a new bio update.

  18. Lee Guest

    I'm finding Clear is great for someone who does not have TSA Pre-Check. But, no meaningful time saving if one does have TSA Pre-Check. Eventually, just as Global Entry has gone to facial recognition, so to will TSA. And, Clear will be out of a job.

    1. OneAlphaTwo Gold

      I feel like it’s very much airport dependent. There can still be some benefits to having both of them combined. At DCA, for example, the Clear lane allows you to get to the front of the TSA pre check line, which then has dedicated scanners/lanes. However, if you have Clear but don’t have pre check, they end up feeding you into the main line, which isn’t worth it IMO.

      For the most part, it’s...

      I feel like it’s very much airport dependent. There can still be some benefits to having both of them combined. At DCA, for example, the Clear lane allows you to get to the front of the TSA pre check line, which then has dedicated scanners/lanes. However, if you have Clear but don’t have pre check, they end up feeding you into the main line, which isn’t worth it IMO.

      For the most part, it’s very fast there, though I’ve definitely seen exceptions…(I’m sure today will be one of them). That being said, I only have Clear because my cc comps it. It’s a “nice to have”, but I wouldn’t pay separately for it.

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Anonymous Guest

They want to verify your ID because they've had so many issues with not so great employees not doing their job correctly (or legally). They want to make sure the person who's been registered is really the right person, although this has (sorta) already been happening with a 50% "random" ID check with TSA even after checking in with clear.

1
Santastico Diamond

I hope this stops the “random” iD check which in my case happens 8 times out of 10 so there is nothing random about it.

1
TravelinWilly Diamond

"...so hopefully this change will make things move more quickly." I'm not sure about that. At Dulles, as an example, just before when the evening banks of flights go out (and when the TSA Pre Check line is just as long as the Clear line), I'm not sure that a faster Clear experience is going to matter much.

1
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