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Allowing guests to skip the application process would ruin the expedited security check, so while loyalty members will still have to sit through interviews, they won’t have to pay for them.
Loews Hotels & Resorts is offering the top-tier members of its loyalty program free membership in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s expedited immigration program, Global Entry.
Members of the program can skip lines when flying back into the United States. Using an automated kiosk, travelers scan their passports and fingerprints, answer the customs declaration questions and proceed with a receipt to the exit.
Anybody in Global Entry also gets to participate in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck expedited screening program. Precheck allows travelers to pass through airport security without taking off their shoes, removing laptops and liquids from bags or taking off belts and light jackets.
Global Entry applicants must submit a detailed travel history and other personal information to the government online and then sit through an in-person interview with customs officials at an airport. The cost is normally $100, good for five years, but Loews announced Monday that it would refund that fee for platinum members of its YouFirst loyalty program. Hotel guests earn platinum status after 10 stays in a calendar year.
Loews Hotels & Resorts, part of New York-based Lowes Corp., is the first hotel company to offer to pick up the tab for Global Entry. American Express Co. also refunds the fee for holders of its platinum card and United Airlines, part of United Continental Holdings Inc., refunds it for its Global Services, Premier 1K and Premier Platinum elite fliers.
The offer from Loews is good for only 60 days.
“To be the first hotel brand to offer this service demonstrates that we understand the needs of travelers, especially those who travel frequently for business,” Paul Whetsell, CEO and president of Loews Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement.