Thanksgiving travel, airport food, Megabus destinations

Friday, November 19, 2010; 9:39 AM

Thanksgiving travel trips

More than 42 million people will be traveling this Thanksgiving, an 11.4 percent increase from last year, AAA estimates. If you're one of them, and you're planning to fly home from the District, expect some changes at Ronald Reagan National and W ashington Dulles International airports - for better or for worse.

Let's start with the good news.

Searching for a parking space won't be as difficult at National. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority a dded more than 1,400 parking spaces to the airport's parking garages, bringing the total number of spaces to almost almost 9,000.

Another addition to National: JetBlue Airways, which began service in Terminal A earlier this month. (Other gate changes: Northwest Airlines merged with Delta and moved from Terminal A to Delta's location in Terminal B. And Frontier and Air Canada both moved to Terminal A).

Dulles said goodbye to most of those rickety mobile lounge shuttles. In their place, the AeroTrain underground airport system began running in January, providing service between the Main Terminal and the A, B and C gates. (Sorry, Gate D passengers. You'll still have to put up with the shuttles.)

Also at Dulles, indoor pet relief areas opened at two post-security locations near Gate A31 and across from Gate D1.

Now for the bad news: At both airports - and at airports across the country - some passengers may be selected for an e nhanced physical pat-down. Both Dulles and National also now have body scans.

And the Transportation Security Administration recently started enforcing Secure Flight, which requires airlines to get a passenger's full name as it appears on a government-issued ID, date of birth and gender.

The Airports Authority has some advice for holiday travelers:

Call your airline or visit its Web site to confirm your flight.

Print your boarding pass before going to the airport.

Place identification tags both inside and outside your luggage.

If you are traveling with a laptop, place a label on the computer and on the carrying case.

Arrive two hours ahead of time for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.

Info: or .

Airport grub

Reagan National might have more parking spaces, but it's lacking in healthy food choices, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

National dropped three spots to last place in the committee's annual assessment of airport food.

The rest of the restaurants in the nation's busiest airports seem to be making some progress. Of all the restaurants in those airports, 82 percent now offer at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free meal, up from 57 percent a decade ago.

Dietitians surveyed restaurant meals at 18 major airports in more than a dozen states. Detroit's Wayne County Airport ranked first, with 96 percent of its restaurants offering at least one healthy option, up from 2001, when 33 percent of the airport's restaurants offered a healthy meal. San Francisco International Airport ranked second, and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport tied for third with Newark Liberty International. Dulles ranked fourth with an 89 percent score. Baltimore-Washington International Marshall ranked 10th with 79 percent.

Each restaurant received a point if its menu included at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian entree. The final percentage score was calculated by dividing the airport's number of restaurants serving healthy fare by its total number of restaurants.

Body scan or pat-down?

What's worse?

According to a recent TripAdvisor poll of 2,544 Americans, 76 percent would prefer a body scan, while 24 percent would prefer a pat-down. The body scan seems to be losing favor. The last time TripAdvisor asked travelers in January, 88 percent said they were comfortable with the body scan and 12 percent said they would prefer the pat-down.

We wonder if this means that the Internet-based campaign encouraging fliers who oppose the body scan machines to observe a "National Opt-Out Day" on Nov. 24 will be a success. Stay tuned.

Up in smoke

Smoking may be prohibited on airplanes, but that's not the case in the nation's airports, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last week. In fact, smoking is allowed indoors in seven of the largest airports. They are: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, and - Dulles.

The study compared the smoke-free policies among the largest U.S. airports in 2002 and 2010. Of the 29 airports analyzed this year, 22 had smoke-free indoors (or 76 percent), compared with 13 of the 31 largest airports (42 percent) in 2002.

Instead of adopting smoke-free policies, several airports have installed enclosed, ventilated smoking rooms, which, needless to say, the surgeon general has argued still puts travelers at risk of exposure to second-hand smoke.

A new alliance

If you're a fan of American Airlines and JetBlue Airways, you'll no longer have to split your loyalties. The two airlines last week launched a reciprocal frequent-flier program. So if you're a member of both airlines' frequent-flier programs, you'll be able to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles and JetBlue TrueBlue points, respectively, in select markets.

American and JetBlue customers will also now be able to book American and JetBlue connecting itineraries on .

The bus rolls on

Starting Dec. 15, Megabus will add new destinations from Washington. The lucky 10 are Boston; Buffalo; Hampton, Va.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Charlotte; Richmond; and Toronto. The pickup/drop-off location in Washington remains unchanged, at H and 10th streets NW. In addition, the bus line is offering 10,000 free seats for travel to these cities between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Use promo code ILUVDC when booking at (subject to availability on select dates and routes).

DC2NY is also expanding its service to New York, adding two departures from Northern Virginia. Starting Tuesday, passengers can board the bus at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and the Franconia/Springfield Metro stops. The bus will make both pickups per trip, until further notice. Cost is $30 one way, $55 round trip. Info:

Travel ticker

Turkish Airlines, which earlier this month launched nonstop flights from Dulles to Istanbul, is offering $751 roundtrip fares, including taxes and fees, for tickets purchased before Dec. 31. Travel must take place before March 31, 2011. Info: . . . . The Hay-Adams Hotel in downtown Washington has reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation, its first since March 2002. Guests can expect elevator improvements, a modernized business center and a new fitness center, along with renovated rooms (think flat-screen TVs). The roof terrace, the Top of the Hay, will be completed in January.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs, Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.

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