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Dulles International displays security-line wait times online

Not sure when to leave for the airport because you never know how long the queue will be? The Washington-area airport has solved that problem.

August 20, 2012|By David Colker, Los Angeles Times
  • A TripAdvisor poll found 49% of people surveyed planned to take their pets with them on an upcoming trip. Above, Corie Geller checks in for her flight to Kansas City with her dog, Rocky, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
A TripAdvisor poll found 49% of people surveyed planned to take their pets… (Jeff Roberson, Associated…)

You plan your escape to the airport carefully, calculating the distance, checking the traffic and printing out your boarding pass.

But there is one unknown for which you can't prepare — the length of the security line. There's no way to tell how bad it's going to be until you get there.

Unless you're flying out of the main terminal of Dulles International Airport.

The airport outside Washington is the first in the nation to adopt a video analytics system to continually count the number of people in the security lines. The automated system that uses video cameras and proprietary software further analyzes how fast the people are progressing and calculates wait times.

The results are shown in real time on the airport website, http://www.mwaa.com/dulles. Click on Security Checkpoint Wait Times for the results.

The system is especially helpful at Dulles' main terminal, which has two security lines leading into the same gate area. The wait times can be checked before you head for the airport, and then on a smartphone or other mobile device as you enter the terminal.

For example, as this is being written, the wait time at the west checkpoint entrance is 19 minutes, while at the east checkpoint it's only eight minutes.

The system was made by Blue Eye Video of Grenoble, France. It's also used at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris and the Dubai International Airport.

Many pets going on trips too

Another week, another survey on pets and travel.

It seems to be an enormously popular topic on travel sites and other online forums.

One of the most recent surveys was done by the site TripAdvisor, which asked 1,000 animal owners about their plans for travel in the next 12 months and whether pets would go along.

The findings: 49% of the people surveyed said they planned to take their pets with them on an upcoming trip.

Among those folks, 56% said they will stay in hotels with their pets. That would be an uptick from last year when 51% of the people surveyed checked into hotels with their pets.

Also, 35% of people who plan to travel with their pets in the next year said they would stay in vacation rentals. That's up from 24% who did so in the last year.

Why do people travel with their pets?

"Our survey shows that TripAdvisor travelers love the companionship of their pets while on vacation," spokeswoman Brooke Ferencsik said, "as 57% indicated it's their top reason for taking them along for the ride."

Ferencsik said 75% of the surveyed travelers who vacation with pets said they typically have no trouble finding animal-friendly accommodations.

Rewards points may not be enough

Thinking of using travel rewards points for a vacation?

Plan ahead.

Capital One Financial Corp., best known for its credit card offerings, said a survey of its rewards card holders in May showed that 33% of them planned to use points for summer vacations. But a survey this month showed that only 21% did so.

"Cardholders should understand that sometimes it can be difficult to use the rewards they've earned with some programs," said Amy Lenander, Capital One's vice president of its rewards programs.

The main problem, cardholders said, was that they didn't end up with enough points to take the trip they wanted.

It's self-serving, but Capital One suggests using rewards cards for major purchases to accumulate points.

The company also warns that reward points, when used, often don't cover all airline travel expenses.

"When cardholders redeem rewards for travel, their trip is not always as 'free' as expected since they are sometimes charged extra for airline taxes, fuel surcharges and booking fees when they redeem," a release from the company said.

david.colker@latimes.com

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