Clear, Marriott and United reunite families separated by COVID-19

May 6, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It was hard to hold back the tears.

After 14 months — or more — of separation, family after family was reunited on Thursday afternoon. There were hugs, kisses and even grandparents who met their 8-month-old grandchild for the first time.

Many of us may look back at the coronavirus pandemic as the time we were forced to stay at least 6 feet away from each other. But often, that distance was much farther.

Clear, the expedited security program that helps passengers speed through airports, teamed up with Marriott and United Airlines to help bring together a few dozen South Florida families who hadn’t seen their relatives in the New York area for more than a year.

One by one they entered the field of MetLife Stadium as actor Neil Patrick Harris announced their entrance. “We Are Family” was blasting in the background, and confetti canons went off as each new family made their way onto the field, looking for their relatives.

For more TPG travel news and tips delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The event wasn’t just about these families, of course. Dozens of reporters — almost more than the number of reunited family members — were present, and each of the organizers had the same message: It’s time for all of us to reconnect and start traveling again.

“I love watching people hug in airport reunions,” said Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO of Clear. And since the beginning of the pandemic, she’s wanted to do something to help replicate that feeling.

So she reached out to United, which is a Clear partner, and then Marriott, which is developing a partnership with Clear. (More on that in a moment.)

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Clear found the families and on Wednesday United flew up the 50 people on a special flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Newark (EWR) on a Boeing 737-800. The group stayed at the Renaissance New York Chelsea before being bused out to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium for their first in-person reunions.

“At United, we talk all the time about ‘connecting people,’ and that’s what today is all about,” said BJ Youngerman, the airline’s managing director for market strategy development and strategic initiatives.

After the hugging and the crying, the families were then directed to spaced-out tables on the football stadium’s field, where they had the first meal together in what seemed like ages.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

As for that potential partnership between Clear and Marriott, well, neither company would say much except that they’d been talking throughout the pandemic.

But it wasn’t until this event that Clear’s Seidman-Becker and Peggy Fang Roe, Marriott’s global officer for customer experience, loyalty and new ventures, met in person. (Roe is the top executive in charge of the Bonvoy program.)

Currently, Marriott offers Clear’s Heath Pass to meeting organizers at its hotels and is now “looking at what else we might do together,” Roe said.

Marriott polls some of its members each week to see their feelings about travel and Roe notes that they are in “very different places and probably will be for some time.”

“The inertia is sort of keeping people at home,” she added.

So, in many ways, Thursday’s event was about showing folks that travel is possible — and it could help people get ready to take those first steps.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.