A three-day Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching.
This would usually be one of the busiest travel times of the year. Instead, airports have barely a quarter of the travellers as last year, and traffic maps are mostly a sea of green. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of normal life, including the willingness of people to leave one’s house and visit other places or people.
How has coronavirus affected the Independence Day travel plans of Arlingtonians? Let’s find out.
Travel can be a wonderful and life-changing experience. Many people in Arlington have come from elsewhere, and are interested in exploring the world and experiencing new things. An Arlington-based travel company is here to help people achieve those dreams.
Global Wanderer Travel is a full-service luxury travel company specializing in group tours to various domestic and international destinations. Each trip they offer is an opportunity for people to experience a new place and new experiences, as well as satisfy the travel bug.
The company aims to provide people (both newcomers and seasoned travelers) with a mix of fun experiences and immerse them in local culture at the same time. The company is expanding its offerings and would like to draw people’s attention and raise general awareness of the opportunities available.
Global Wanderer Travel’s goal is to provide a more meaningful travel experience. With upcoming destinations such as New York, London, and Paris on the horizon, the company offers a mix of destinations to satisfy any traveler’s desires. Each tour includes a small group size so everyone gets to know each other.
Rather than just visiting the main tourist attractions in a city, people are also given unique opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture, whether through a food tour of local cuisine, exploration of a city’s downtown streets and neighborhoods, or history lessons from a native historian. Each traveler gets the fun and relaxation of a vacation, but ends up with a full appreciation and understanding of the destination as well.
New adventures and destinations await!
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Expect heavy traffic at the airports and on local highways as more than a million people depart the D.C. area for the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to Reagan National Airport, peak travel days include today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), plus Saturday and Sunday for those returning from their Thanksgiving vacation.
Travelers are advised to take Metro and use terminal garages due to ongoing construction for a new 14-gate concourse at DCA, titled “Project Journey,” that has reduced lane capacity on the Arrivals roadway in front of Terminal B/C. Meanwhile, big storms affecting large portions of the country may bring flight delays and cancellations.
On the roads, AAA Mid-Atlantic is predicting a “big exodus,” with the worst traffic expected tomorrow.
“As a result, holiday travelers exiting the area and those staying put for the holiday, will encounter heavier traffic congestion, as well as travel delays that are almost three times longer than the normal delays — if there is such a thing around here — during the afternoon rush hours on any given Wednesday.”
Another traffic tracking company agrees, saying 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday should bring the worst traffic on D.C. area highways and arterials.
As Thanksgiving is one of the worst times of the year for crashes, Virginia State Police will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. — Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort — starting tomorrow and running until December 1. The program, will increase police visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the five-day holiday period.
The Arlington County Police Department, meanwhile, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a high-visibility “Click It or Ticket” campaign, starting today and running until December 6.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority had the following tips for travelers, after the jump.
Airline catering workers at Reagan National Airport are planning to picket and stage a sit-in today to protest “poverty wages [and] expensive healthcare.”
The workers, who work for companies contracted by the airlines, are paid as little as $12.15 an hour and many don’t receive company-provided healthcare, according to labor union UNITE HERE Local 23.
Around 5:30 p.m. today, on perhaps the busiest travel day of the year, workers are planning to engage in “informational picketing,” followed by a “nonviolent civil disobedience sit-in” at DCA’s American Airlines Terminal C.
This is the latest in a series of labor actions targeting airline contractors at National Airport over the past few years — including one recent rally with Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
More from UNITE HERE:
This protest is set to be the latest in a series of demonstrations by airline catering workers at U.S. airports. Though their work is essential to airline operations, wages are as low as $12.15 an hour. Only 32% of workers at LSG Sky Chefs at DCA had company healthcare in 2018, and only 10% covered any dependents. Meanwhile, American reported a 2018 annual profit of $1.9 billion. Workers hope that by bringing their message to the many passengers travelling before Thanksgiving, they will motivate American to resolve the labor dispute.
In addition to ongoing protest activity at DCA, previous large-scale demonstrations calling attention to American Airlines have already taken place this year in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Dallas-Ft. Worth–where over 50 were arrested in a civil disobedience near American Airlines’ headquarters and largest hub airport. This past summer UNITE HERE airline catering workers at DCA voted overwhelmingly to strike when released by the National Mediation Board. Federal mediation of contract negotiations continues.
In D.C., where the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority passed a workers wage policy in 2017, the Board’s resolution stated that MWAA would review the policy no later than December 31, 2019. The last scheduled raise in the MWAA policy is for $12.75 on January 1, 2020, and then will rise with inflation. Meanwhile, the minimum wage in D.C. is already $14, rising to $15 on July 1, 2020, and then rising with inflation. Workers are pushing MWAA to raise the minimum wage for all airport workers to catch up to the rising minimum wage in D.C., and address the growing health care crisis at Reagan National and Dulles International Airports.
Amazon Offers Millions for Affordable Housing — “Amazon is offering $20 million to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund in exchange for being allowed to build a bigger headquarters complex in the county than zoning allows… it would be the greatest single infusion of money ever into Arlington’s housing fund.” [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Alexandria Home Sale Prices Rise Above Arlington — “The Amazon HQ2 effect on home prices in Northern Virginia continues and, at least by one measure, the Alexandria housing market is now more expensive than Arlington County. At least it was in October, the most recent month for which data is available.” [WTOP]
Racing Presidents Offer DCA Travel Tips — The Washington Nationals racing presidents star in a new video offering holiday travel tips to those flying out of Reagan National Airport. [Twitter/@Reagan_Airport]
ACFD Responds to Prince George’s Co. Fire — “Today, @ArlingtonVaFD Truck 105 in the Crystal City area was dispatched to 3800 St. Barnabas Road in Marlow Heights for a @PGFDNews building fire. They were the 3rd due special service on the initial dispatch.” [Twitter/@STATter911]
Bankruptcy for Quarterdeck’s Sister Restaurant — “District Anchor, the bar that replaced the decades-old Dupont Circle mainstay Rumors in 2016, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization… owner Patrick Morrogh — who also owns Arlington’s Quarterdeck Restaurant, similarly known for its crabs and seafood-based menu — doesn’t intend to close the Dupont bar.” [Washington Business Journal]
Anecdotal as it may be, it seems that the Thanksgiving holiday has already started for a lot of local folks.
On the way to ARLnow’s office in Ballston during the peak of the morning rush hour, the usual backups on eastbound Wilson Blvd at N. Glebe Road were gone. So was the usual line at a certain chain coffee shop near the Ballston Metro station.
Ballston wasn’t a ghost town by any means, but there just seemed to be a modest reduction in the usual delays and hubbub. The same couldn’t necessarily be said for post-Express Lanes traffic on I-395, however.
— Hillary Howard (@hhowardWTOP) November 25, 2019
That has us wondering just how early does Thanksgiving break start for our readers — when is the first day you’re taking off for the holiday?
If you’ve ever wanted to go to France, or if you’ve already been, you probably dream of quaint villages, hot crepes, sipping espresso, exploring narrow streets and immersing yourself in history and folklore.
You dream of biting into fresh pastries, indulging in cheese and wine, trying to speak French and marveling at the Mont St Michel. You imagine walking in the footsteps of artists like Van Gogh and Monet, discovering relics from Roman times, seeing the Normandy beaches of D-Day and hearing the stories of courage, touring luxurious chateaus and making friends with locals.
These activities are part of the everyday life of the French and now there is a way to authentically experience it all as if you lived there, all while avoiding the crowds.
For the past 4 years local Arlington based tour company TripUSAFrance has been making those dreams come true for hundreds of travelers. Owner, French ExPat and main tour guide Julia Girard-Gervois followed her passion for French culture and tourism and started the business with the goal of enabling travelers to experience the best of France like she does.
She crafted two tour programs so far that each highlight the best of the regions they showcase. They are collecting rave reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook. Tourists have said they love getting amazing regional food at handpicked restaurants, the small group dynamic (no more than 14 travelers per tour), getting to mingle with locals, amazing off-beaten path sites, fun activities and being treated like friends with the personal service and care that Julia and her father Stephane bestow on each person on the tour.
For an affordable price that includes everything but airfare, you can be whisked away on a trip that brings to life the France you’ve always imagined. Book your trip online at www.tripusafrance.com. Private tours also available by request.
Restaurant Owners Eye Crystal City — “Andrew Dana, owner of Parkview bagel sensation Call Your Mother and lauded Petworth pizza spot Timber Pizza Co., texted his business partner Jeff Zients on Tuesday night with one question: ‘How do we get into Amazon HQ2?’ It’s a question many restaurant and bar owners will likely be asking in the coming months as Crystal City and Pentagon City prepare to host parts of Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 and its eventual 25,000 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]
Last Vehicle Decal Deadline is Tomorrow — “Nov. 16 is the deadline for owners of vehicles garaged in Arlington to display the 2018-19 county vehicle decal. Decals, which signify payment of vehicle taxes, should be placed adjacent to the state-inspection sticker on the driver’s side of the windshield.” [InsideNova]
Columnist: Ban Cars in National Landing — “It seems pretty obvious what Arlington, Amazon, and JBG Smith (Amazon’s future landlord) absolutely need to do: Take the dramatic but wholly necessary step of banning cars and closing all the parking lots throughout National Landing.” [Washington City Paper]
Home Sales Down, Prices Up — “The arrival of Amazon may change things over the long haul, but for now, the Arlington real estate market seems to be moving through a dormant period, sales-wise – with few signs of improvement on the near horizon. But while sales were down, the average sales price was up slightly and prices of single-family properties averaged more than $1 million during the month, according to new figures.” [InsideNova]
First Word of HQ2 Win Received in Wendy’s Parking Lot — “Virginia learned it had won the biggest economic development contest in U.S. history when a low-profile state official got a phone call in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley at 2 p.m. Monday.” [Washington Post]
Tips for Thanksgiving Travel at DCA — “Construction delays and big holiday crowds mean you’ll have to add extra time to fly in or out of the D.C. region’s airports for much of the next month and a half.” [WTOP, MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
The lengthy construction work at Reagan National Airport has now shut down the cell phone waiting lot for drivers picking up arrivals, with rolling lane closures in place as part of the latest headache for travelers.
The cell phone lot shut down Monday (Oct. 8) to clear the way for the construction work, and will be closed indefinitely, airport officials announced last week. As a concession, drivers will now be able to park for free for up to an hour in any of the airport’s three terminal parking garages.
Segments of lanes along the upper-level Terminal B/C ticketing road will also be shut down 24 hours-per-day through mid-November. Officials plan to maintain at least two travel lanes at all times.
These latest closures have also forced Reagan to change the pick-up locations for shuttle buses at Terminals B/C. Anyone arriving at gates 10 through 45 should head upstairs to ticketing on level three, then look for the new stops near the JetBlue/Alaska Air entrance. Pick-up spots for taxis and rideshare drivers won’t be impacted by the work.
Over the past few months, the construction has irked taxi drivers at the airport, who claim that Reagan officials have poorly managed the construction to give preference to Uber and Lyft drivers and hurt their business.
Neighbors have complained about the work as well, after the airport set aside a staging lot for rideshare drivers that snarled traffic in the area — Arlington officials ultimately agreed to re-open an exit to a street adjacent to the lot in a bid to address the issue.
Airport leaders expect that work on the construction, dubbed “Project Journey” and primarily designed to replace the three security checkpoints at Terminal B/C with two new buildings, will run through 2021. However, they plan to wrap up most of the work on the arrival lanes by the middle of next year, when construction will focus on the airport’s interior.
TripUSAFrance is a great way to experience French culture in a non-traditional way.
Lots of tourists choose Arlington based tour company TripUSAFrance to visit Normandy and the South of France/Provence regions because of its small group sizes (including private tours) that allow them to blend in and interact with the locals.
There are also more opportunities to see hidden gems that usually aren’t part of big tour itineraries, including some of the most beautiful villages of France.
The tours are led by locals who walk groups through historic sites and share their culture and personal traditions. For instance, groups enjoy a French picnic, eat at authentic French restaurants, and dine at the guides’ homes. Since groups range from four to fourteen people, participants get plenty of attention from guides along the journey and make friends with other travelers.
The goal is to make sure that you spend memorable time enjoying your trip.
That’s why TripUSAFrance carefully plans everything for you, which includes personal help from a staff member to coordinate your travel plans. TripUSAFrance even gives participants cell phones to reach tour guides during free times from group activities.
For stress-free planning, the cost of the vacation includes ground transportation, hotel, breakfasts, lunches, at least three dinners, snacks, admission fees for stops on your tour, wine tastings and more. Participants only need to pay for their plane tickets, extra dinners and drinks, and souvenirs from their unforgettable experience.
There’s still availability left this summer so don’t wait to book your trip!
Some highlights of their South of France / Provence tour:
Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.
An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.
The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”
Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.
Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.
The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.
The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).
The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.
The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.
Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.
The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools