IF YOU'RE USED to parking in Baltimore-Washington International's close-in lots, brace yourself for sticker shock.
In an effort to discourage long-term parkers from using the seductively close-in covered parking garage and nearby ESP parking area, BWI has hiked prices. You'll now pay a maximum daily rate of $20 for the garage, and $18 at ESP. This is up from $12 previously. The long-term lot, an annoying shuttle bus ride away, is $7 a day with the seventh day free.
One minor deal remains for frugal lazies: ESP is half-price on
weekends through Labor Day. The $9 daily rate applies to those entering the lot after noon on Friday and leaving before noon Monday.
The phone number for the Australian Tourism Commission was incorrect in last Sunday's Travel Q&A. For Australia travel information, call 1-800-333-0262, or call the Aussie Help Line at 661-775-2000.
Passenger Bill of Rights Watch
In our campaign to monitor major airlines' suspiciously timed "Renewed Commitment to Customer Service," we report on The Bump.
Planning on flying Delta this summer? Might want to pack your pjs. The airline has the unhappy distinction of being the U.S. carrier with the highest number of involuntarily bumped passengers -- that is, 8,144 people who'd paid for seats but were not allowed onto their airplanes at the gate. Transportation Department figures for the first three months of 1999 show that Delta bumped almost four times as many folks as second-worst United. (Southwest was third with 1,938 bumps).
As anybody who has joined the anxious scrum around an overbooked boarding gate can tell you, airlines can pretty easily make this problem go away, by buying off booked passengers with seats on the next flight out and free or deeply discounted tickets for another flight. This lets everyone who must fly on board and turns the others into happy recipients of free air travel rather than airline-hating, congressman-writing malcontents. A win-win situation, as they say.
So why does Delta lose this game so much more often than its peers? Delta blames its bump jump (nearly triple its bump rate for the same period last year) to record passenger loads, the American Airlines pilots' strike (which diverted fliers to other carriers), bad weather in the Northeast and a high proportion of bump-resistant business travelers. Still, spokesman John Kennedy vows, Delta views the figure as "unacceptable" and intends to, among other things . . . use some new load forecasting software, intended to decrease overbooking.
We suspect the lower-tech solution of greater generosity at the gate would bring that number down too. So will Delta offer richer buy-outs? Maybe. "We're looking at all scenarios, and that certainly is one of them," Kennedy notes.
-- John Briley
Under DOT rules, if you are involuntarily bumped from a flight but are flown to your destination within an hour of your scheduled arrival, you get nothing. If you arrive one to two hours late, the airline owes you a ticket of equal value, up to $200. If you arrive more than two hours late, the airline owes double your fare, up to $400.
Upright and Locked
CRAVING SOMETHING other than the dreaded nut bag? Careful what you wish for. Southwest Airlines flight attendants passed out the above "snack" on a recent flight from Islip, N.Y., to BWI -- a "loot bag" of the type given away at birthday parties for the under-8 set. Contents: Three (3) midget Tootsie Rolls. Explanation? Leftovers from the airline's 28th birthday bash, June 18.
Ernest Goes Fishing
A collection of Hemingway artifacts that has never before left Cuba debuts this week at the International Game Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum near Fort Lauderdale. "Papa: A Tribute to Ernest Hemingway," which features the old man's fishing vest and tackle, the mainboard of his fishing boat Pilar and many literary pieces, opens Wednesday at the Dania Beach facility. Most items come from Finca Vigia, his former Havana area home, now the Cuban-operated Museo Ernest Hemingway. Info: 954-927-2628, www.igfa.org. The show runs for six months.
Air Warning: Third Time's a Harm
You may have heard the story about how passengers aboard a British Airways flight were subject to every flier's worst nightmare -- an automated, plane-wide announcement saying, Attention. This is an emergency announcement. It may be necessary to make an emergency landing over water.
In fact, the airplane, bound from London to Los Angeles, was flying over landlocked Winnipeg at the time, and the message was activated in error.
Scarier is the fact that this was the third time since March that an emergency warning of this type was erroneously activated on a British Airways flight. The airline is investigating the cause of the latest incident -- but then, it said that after the first two incidents too. In all cases, pilots quickly reassured passengers that no crash was imminent, and no physical injuries were reported.
Oddly, these incidents occurred while the airline is in the process of outfitting its long-haul jets with defibrillators, emergency medical devices that can restart hearts that have stopped beating. We must accept the possibility that, as the airline says, the timing is merely a coincidence.
Travel Tip 105
What Was That Tip Again?
"The most important thing I take along on any trip is a small pack of Post-It notes," writes tipster Monica Friedman of Silver Spring. "Kept in the outside pocket of my wheeled small valise, they have dozens of uses: a reminder to call Auntie Beatty in London, to order early breakfast on the day I leave, to retrieve valuables from the in-room or desk safe, etc."
As full-fledged members of the Senior Moment club, we love this tip. Our desks, refrigerators, door jambs and dashboards are covered with sticky notes -- why not our hotel rooms, too? Friedman wins a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt for sharing her tip. Got an idea of your own to share? Try to remember to read the fine print below.
Travel tips (100 words or less) may be sent by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org); postcard (Travel Tips, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071); or fax (202-334-1069). Include your name, address and phone number. One tip per postcard or e-mail. Winners receive a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt. No purchase necessary. Tips submitted become property of The Washington Post, which may edit, publish, distribute and republish the information in any form, including paper and electronic media. Weekly winners are chosen on the basis of utility and novelty; decisions are made by the editors of The Washington Post Travel section and are final.
If it's summer, it's time for the U.S. State Department's public an-nouncement for visitors headed to Northern Ireland during the time when some 3,000 Protestant marches are held. State warns of the "potential risk of being caught up in dangerous situations" near the parades, which occur throughout the province but are more likely in Belfast, Londonderry and Portadown. The marches range in size from 100 to 20,000 people, and occasionally inspire petrol bombs, vehicle fires and attacks on police. Last week's breakdown in peace talks could gin up the tension. The State Department has no record of Americans being targeted by these demonstrations. More: http://travel.state.gov.