Airline loyalty programs have offered TSA PreCheck as a perk, but this marks the first time a hotel company has done so. Here's hoping the PreCheck program, embattled by TSA budget cuts, will improve enough to become a real, tangible perk for travelers.
Beginning July 1, members of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s rewards program, Club Carlson, will be able to redeem points for TSA PreCheck membership, making Carlson Rezidor the first hotel company to offer the perk to its guests.
65,000 Club Carlson points will cover the $85 application fee for five years of TSA PreCheck status, enabling expedited security screenings at airports in the U.S.
But is TSA PreCheck really a perk? Some might argue that the ability to go through security checkpoints without taking off your shoes and belts, or removing your laptops and liquids, isn’t as much of a luxury of convenience as it’s billed to be.
Cutbacks in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) budget have led to job cuts, meaning fewer TSA agents and airport screeners. And while PreCheck lanes are supposed to be able to screen 300 passengers per hour, more than twice the number screened in normal lanes, those PreCheck lanes aren’t always open or staffed at many airports.
While the TSA originally planned to have 25 million passengers enrolled in the program, only 9.3 million have enrolled as of March 1. If programs like Carlson Rezidor’s are able to encourage more Americans to sign up for PreCheck, that could also help to improve the program’s outlook.
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, like many other hotel companies at the moment, is currently in the midst of a merger/acquisition. The privately held Carlson Hotels portion of the group announced in April that China’s HNA Group would buy the company for an undisclosed sum.
HNA’s purchase of Carlson Hotels included a 51-percent stake in publcy traded Rezidor Hotel Group, and the Rezidor CEO said HNA wants to grow the brand and possibly combine it with NH Hotels, which HNA also owns. There’s been no formal confirmation, however, of HNA’s plans for Carlson and Rezidor just yet. Brands that fall under the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group include Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Country Inn & Suite By Carlson, and Quorvus Collection, among others.
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Photo Credit: A Park Inn property in Antwerp, Belgium. Carlson Rezidor