Room for Improvement
In anticipation of a three-night reunion, the family of Sandra Jorgenson of Alexandria reserved five rooms and suites at the Yosemite View Lodge, including a disabled-accessible room for her parents, Muriel and James Loopstra of El Sobrante, Calif.
When they arrived, the front desk directed them to a building with a wheelchair ramp. The family entered and roamed the halls before figuring out that the Loopstras were assigned to a different building -- one with stairs, no ramp and no accessible room.
Sorry, nothing else available, Jorgenson said they were told upon returning to the front desk. The family jiggered their own arrangements: By switching rooms and bunking with the grandkids in a suite, the Loopstras were accommodated. The second night, the lodge came up with an accessible room.
For the inconvenience, the family was offered a small discount off the $3,500 bill -- Jorgensen says $45; Yosemite Resorts spokesman Kevin Shelton says $155. What steams her most: Letters of complaint, she says, went unanswered.
What, she asked CoGo, can I do?
Like other civil rights laws, enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is generally through the courts. Thus, there's no rule that lays out exactly what happens if you reserve an accessible room but the hotel forgets to save it.
The family should file a complaint with the Department of Justice, advises Marian Vessels of the ADA and IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region, a government-funded nonprofit. By clicking "enforcement" and conducting a search with the word "reservation" at www.ada.gov, CoGo found cases in which the department had investigated similar complaints -- and as a result, hotels settled with consumers, paying thousands of dollars. Of course, you aren't owed any room -- accessible or otherwise -- if you show up without a reservation.
"Generally if a customer reserves a specific kind of room we do everything we can to accommodate them," says Shelton, who adds that he's investigating the complaint.
For info or to make complaints about an ADA-related travel issue, call the Justice Department's ADA hot line at 800-514-0301.
A Lucky Brake
Seeing the sign saying that the $9-a-day economy lot at Reagan National was full, Mitch Katz of Arlington reluctantly rushed to the daily lot, prepared to pay $15 a day for eight days. Fortunately, he happened to mention that the economy lot was full. As long as you have a note to that effect, he was told, you can get the economy price at the daily lot. Although he didn't have a "note," they cut him break -- saving $58.
CoGo never gets breaks, but in a similar situation now knows to ask the economy lot attendant for a voucher that guarantees the lower price. And as CoGo reported a couple months ago, if all lots are full, you might end up with free parking in the employee lot.
Both policies represent an apologetic nod to National's parking crunch. And if you head to the airport without calling 703-417-PARK, you could find another situation: no place to put your car.
As of Oct. 1, US Airways will no longer take live animals as checked baggage or cargo (if you booked before Aug. 17, you can check your animals on flights through Nov. 1). This does not apply to service animals. Info will be posted at www.usairways.com under "customer service" (click on "travel policies") . . . Due to Gate Gourmet's ongoing catering strike, British Airways will offer only limited food service -- snacks and drinks -- on long flights but has arranged for some pre-departure catering at Heathrow. Info: 800-AIRWAYS, www.ba.com . . . Simmons Air will launch service from Baltimore to Ocean City, Md., on Sept. 20; round-trip fares for the 35-minute flight will cost $90, plus taxes. The flight will depart every two hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Fly round trip to Osaka, Japan, for $715, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Cindy Loose.
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