National: Full House
Last month, travelers looking for a parking spot at Reagan National airport had to drive around in circles -- and then leave, as the garages were full. That's only happened a few times this year -- but with fare-sale wars, an influx of budget carriers and just the "landscape of the airport," says Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman Jonathan Gaffney, parking woes will likely persist through the summer. Though the airport is looking for solutions (last weekend it opened up the employee lot to civilians), none will be ready anytime soon.
CoGo's advice: Leave the car at home and take Metro, which goes right to the airport's doorstep; catch a cab or a shuttle; or bum a ride from a friend. Another option: Nearby hotels with park-and-fly deals that are only slightly more expensive than the airport's $9 daily economy rate. Some possibilities:
* Crowne Plaza Hotel in Arlington, about five minutes from the airport, offers $12 parking per day to nonguests. It also has a park-and-fly package for $199, including seven days of free parking. Free shuttle. 703-416-1600, www.ichotelsgroup.com.
* Holiday Inn National Airport in Crystal City, minutes from the terminals, offers $10-per-day parking. Free shuttle. 703-684-7200, www.hinationalairport.com.
* Best Western Old Colony Inn in Alexandria, two miles from National, doesn't offer parking-only, but for one night's stay ($109-$149) you can park free for three days (after that, it's about $10 a day). Free shuttle. 703-739- 2222, www.bestwestern.com.
Other hotels that offer sleep-park- and-fly include Courtyard by Marriott Alexandria (703-329-2323; free shuttle to Metro) and Courtyard by Marriott Arlington Crystal City (703-549-3434, $12 a day with a one-night stay). Details: http://marriott.com.
UPRIGHT AND LOCKED
Curious to try Independence Air, the much-ballyhooed low-fare airline operating out of Dulles International Airport, CoGo booked a flight to Atlanta last week. The price was good, but not amazing ($153 round trip, including a $25 discount for joining the frequent-flier club). The leather seats without the dreaded stuck-in-the- middle spot sounded good -- but the 50-passenger planes (12 rows, two seats on each side, plus an extra set) had CoGo a little concerned.
Not to worry. These aren't propeller planes, but "i-jets" -- which Independence spokesman Rick DeLisi describes as slightly bigger versions of the Learjets often used for business travel. CoGo's ride was smooth, despite thunderstorms from here to Atlanta; snacks and soft drinks were served; and the seats were comfortable, though not quite as luxurious as CoGo had hoped. Kind of tight, though DeLisi assured us that the seats are the same size as other airlines' and, in fact, have slightly more leg room. It still seemed a little tight to CoGo.
Bonus No. 1: CoGo arrived at the airport way ahead of takeoff and was able to hop on an earlier flight at no extra charge. As long as there are available seats, DeLisi said passengers are welcome to switch flights gratis.
Bonus No. 2: CoGo missed the flight home and was promptly moved -- for free -- to another one an hour later. DeLisi said there's normally a $25 change fee, plus any increase in fare.
Details: 800-FLY-FLYi, www.flyi.com.
Colmar, France, home town of Statue of Liberty sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, kicks off a series of summer events honoring the United States by unveiling today a replica of the statue. Details: www.tourisme-alsace.com . . . Six Civil War sites in central Kentucky will hold demonstrations, concerts and other special programs July 19-24. Details: 888-332-1862, www.kycivilwar.org.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Off to Orlando
Fly two-for-one to Orlando from BWI. What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Cindy Loose, January Payne, Andrea Sachs.
Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to firstname.lastname@example.org. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.