Sunday, November 11, 2007


Pick Your Spot

Wondering where to park at the airport during the cold, busy holiday season? Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is offering convenience at a low price. Through Jan. 5, if you print out a $5-off coupon at, you can park in the express lot for $9 a day. The price at the close-in lot includes help with luggage, and it's just $1 more than parking in the long-term lot at the edge of the airport. (If the express lot is full, you can use the coupon to pay $9 in the daily garage, which is normally $10 a day.)

Other options include off-site lots within about a five-minute shuttle drive. The cheapest CoGo could find: $7.45 a day at Econopark Express, if you print out a coupon at

Passengers with an early-morning flight or those traveling for more than a few days might find the best deal is staying overnight at a hotel with free parking and an airport shuttle. Find hotels near BWI, Dulles International and Reagan National that charge as little as $92 a night (BWI), $87 (Dulles) and $105 (National) and include as much as two weeks of free parking, at

At National , lots can fill at busy times, so be sure to check parking availability before leaving home at or call 703-417-7275. If lots are full, " Metrorail is an excellent alternative," says airport spokesman Rob Yingling. Lots are most likely to be filled the two weeks before Thanksgiving, as business travelers hustle to get work done before kicking back, and on Dec. 25 and 26. Parking at National is $10 a day in the economy lot, $17 in the daily garage and $36 a day in hourly parking. Valet parking is $40 for the first day, $30 for the next two days, then $25 a day.

Dulles has plenty of parking in all types of lots at even the busiest times, Yingling promises. Prices are $9 a day in long-term economy, $15 a day in the daily. Parking in the hourly lot is $36 a day. That's more than valet parking, which by comparison seems to be a good deal: $30 the first day and $17 for subsequent days.


Of Caps and Comps

Usha Chaudhary and her three family members made it from Washington to New Delhi just fine. Their luggage, however, was left in London's Heathrow Airport, and there was no word on when it might catch up with them. Chaudhary, of Fairfax, says a British Airways rep told her they could buy whatever they needed while awaiting their luggage. "I specifically remember asking if there was a cap , and they said no, all I would have to do is provide receipts for reimbursement," Chaudhary said.

Over the next four days, until their luggage showed up, the family spent $3,500 to replace clothes and presents for numerous family gatherings. After receipts were submitted, they were offered $1,200, or $300 per passenger.

BA does consider "each passenger's circumstances," said spokesman John Lampl, but there are caps that vary by class of service and frequent-flier status. First-class passengers can claim up to 200 British pounds, or about $420, for "first needs." In economy class, gold club members can claim up to about $315; passengers who aren't frequent fliers, up to about $74. BA reimbursed the Chaudharys at near the highest rate for coach passengers, even though they are not frequent fliers on the airline.

BA's policy is relatively generous. Northwest Airlines, for example, will reimburse passengers up to $50 the first day luggage is missing and an additional $25 for subsequent days, up to $150. Delta's policy is typical: $25 a day.

CoGo's advice: Don't believe any agent who says there is no cap. Some airlines outline their policies in their contracts of carriage on their Web sites.


More changes to Southwest Airline's boarding and ticketing policies, designed to attract business travelers, were announced last week. A new class of traveler, business select, will pay more and receive priority boarding, extra frequent-flier credits and a free drink. Frequent travelers (those who fly 32 one-way or 16 round-trip flights per year) also will get first dibs on boarding. . . . Las Vegas last week launched a new fleet of buses and trolleys for travel around the Strip and various city landmarks. Collectively called the Arrow, the vehicles are equipped with videos about attractions and with touch screens that allow you to buy tickets for shows and tours. Single-ride tickets are $2.50, or buy a $10 all-day ticket that includes the Arrow and the monorail, which has seven stops. Buy passes at various hotels or at . . . Priceline is permanently dropping its $5 fee for booking flights on published fares, after a summer test. The fee still applies when booking through the "Name Your Own Fare" auction portion of the site. . . . The Silver Diner, serving classic American food, opens Friday in the Southwest A/B terminal of BWI. Sit-down meals are guaranteed to be served within 10 minutes; to-go options include sandwiches and, if you have 10 minutes to spare, any meal on the menu.


Beijing Bound

United has sale fares from Washington Dulles to Beijing. Fly nonstop for $817 round trip (including taxes). Purchase by Nov. 24, and depart by Dec. 13. Lowest fares available Monday through Thursday; six-night minimum and 30-day maximum stay. Seven-day advance purchase is required. Fare on other airlines starts at $921 round trip. Buy at, or for $15 more call 800-864-8331.

Reporting: Cindy Loose, Carol Sottili

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