Washington State’s Puget Sound area is famous for its moderate climate and postcard-perfect views of the Olympic mountain range. You’ve probably seen those gorgeous images of kayaks in the bay, a whale splashing in the distance, and, behind it all, snow-capped mountains. “Olympic thrills, and a few chills, on a summer Puget Sound adventure”
What has Washington done for airline passengers lately?
That’s the question prompted by two recent political scandals that have touched the tourism world. But the answer — or the lack of an answer — may be far more troubling than the alleged misconduct.
“Air travelers to Washington: What have you done for us lately?”
The government shutdown was supposed to be a non-event for travelers, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.
When a gridlocked Congress shuttered vast sections of the federal government on Oct. 1 and furloughed 800,000 workers, its decision touched tourists in unexpected ways, from abruptly canceling a camping trip in a national park to foiling a destination wedding. It drained visitors from popular attractions, causing hotel occupancy rates to plummet and hurting other travel-related businesses.
Along the way, many travelers have discovered the important — and often underappreciated — part that the federal government plays in travel.
Without the government, they learned, some of the most interesting parts of the travel industry simply wouldn’t exist. “People haven’t been as aware of the government’s role in travel,” says Joshua Huder, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.
“The government shutdown’s surprise effect on travelers”
Here’s a complaint you don’t see every day. It comes to us by way of Alex Johnston, who was flying from San Francisco to Charlottesville, Va., via Washington on United Airlines.
“We boarded our flight in San Francisco on time,” she remembers. “But shortly after beginning our taxi, the pilot announced that we would be delayed 45 minutes to an hour on the runway because Air Force One was in front of us, flying the same route, so we must wait and allow them the space and time they needed.”
Of course, there’s a good reason for keeping a minimum distance between Air Force One and other air traffic. There have been several close calls between the presidential aircraft and other planes in the past.
“No compensation for Air Force One delay?”
Faith James likes to think of herself as a “pretty savvy traveler” but when she planned to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington next month, she couldn’t have foreseen the trouble with the Capitol Hill Hotel Washington D.C.
I couldn’t have, either.
James is taking her 78-year-old mother up to DC to attend the festivities. They were lucky enough to get tickets from their congressman, but accommodations proved to be a little more difficult.
“Oops! Wrong inaugural rate at the Capitol Hill Hotel Washington D.C.”