At Dulles, Lots Going On

Dulles International Airport is attempting to speed travelers out of its parking lots by allowing them to bypass the cashier lane.

You still have to pay. But now there is a choice: Sit in exit lanes with a human cashier as drivers in front of you fumble for their wallets, or pay before you even reach your car at new self-service machines near baggage claim.

The machines, introduced last month, calculate your bill, accept cash or credit card as payment and stamp your ticket as paid. Once in your car, head to the special prepaid exit lanes and slip the ticket into a second machine.

You have 20 minutes grace time from the time you stamp your ticket at baggage claim until you reach the parking exit in the hourly lot; 30 minutes in the parking garage; and 40 minutes in the economy lot. Any longer and you must pay for the extra time.

The new process angered a CoGo reader who parked, ran into the airport for a few minutes to pick up a passenger and stuck his ticket in the prepay machine at baggage claim. He had to pay $3 to get it back. Is the airport eliminating the usual 20 minutes of free parking, he asked? No, says airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton, but the prepay machines can't deal with the complexities of free minutes and grace minutes. So if you're making a quick pickup, don't use the new machines; head to the human cashier.


Entangling Alliances

If Airline A enters into an alliance with Airline B, does A then become a partner with all of B's partners? Not when it comes to frequent-flier miles.

CoGo readers Sarah Snyder and Stephen Plant of Herndon, who are members of Northwest's frequent-flier club, booked a flight to London through Continental, a Northwest frequent-flier partner. They didn't realize the plane would be operated by Virgin Atlantic, which has a code-share agreement -- but no frequent-flier partnership -- with Continental.

When it came time to claim the miles, Northwest said no way because it has no agreement with Virgin. "As if it makes a difference whose name is on the plane that carried us across the ocean," Snyder griped in an e-mail to CoGo.

It certainly does matter, said Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch."We're the first airline to enter into a huge domestic partnership like this, which doubled our members' options to earn and redeem. But if two airlines form a partner- ship, it doesn't result in each partner being joined with all the other's partners."

CoGo's advice: If miles are important, take the time to check each airline's alliances. Just because you book with a particular airline, don't assume its logo will be on the plane -- ask.


Oui Oui, Sugar

Atlanta's High Museum of Art is seeking to make a lasting impression through its collaboration with France's second-largest -- and CoGo's favorite -- museum. The High is exhibiting works from Paris's Musee d'Orsay, and city institutions and restaurants are joining forces to create "Paris in Atlanta."

Gimmicky? Sure. But it's an unparalleled chance to view the masterworks of the Musee d'Orsay on this side of the Atlantic. "Paris in the Age of Impressionism," which opened yesterday and runs through March 16, includes more than 100 works by Degas, Monet, Gauguin and their contemporaries.

Other activities range from theatrical performances to lectures to French-inspired sea salt massages. And such top restaurants as Brasserie La Coze and Philippe's Bistro are offering special prix-fixe dinners ($45-$75).

For tickets to the exhibit ($13 Tuesday-Friday, $15 weekends): 404-733-4468, For event details and hotel packages that include tickets:

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Reporting:Cindy Loose, Anne McDonough, Carol Sottili.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.