Welcome to the all-new Elliott — please fasten your seatbelts!

Vector Art/Shutterstock
Vector Art/Shutterstock
I have some really exciting news today. I’m joining USA Today as a travel columnist.

I’ll be writing the weekly “On Travel” feature, which will expose readers to thought-provoking insights into the world of airlines, car rentals, cruises and hotels. Since its redesign last fall, USA Today has cultivated lead “voices” for every section, and “On Travel” will be its travel voice.

Here’s my debut column.

I’ll continue to serve as the reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler and pen separate columns for Tribune Media Services, the Washington Post and Mint.com — and, of course, you can find me every day right here on this site.

But there’s more.

✓ A few days ago I announced my latest book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). It contains all the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the last two decades of consumer advocacy. I’m so excited about this project because it has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of trips. It’s yet another cornerstone of the “next” chapter.

✓ During the last few weeks, I’ve also redesigned this site. The most significant change? I’ve moved the entire database of company contacts from On Your Side over here. You can find email addresses, phone numbers and other contact information for every major company on the “Company Contacts” section of Elliott. That’s the next piece of the puzzle.

✓ Finally — and this is perhaps the biggest news — I’ve realized that this site is bigger than me. It is, and it has always been, your site. Here’s a list of editors and supporters who have made this project possible. In coming days, you will also see new bylines and new features, as Elliott evolves into a full-fledged group-written news organization for consumers. And that’s the last piece of the jigsaw snapping into place. I’m handing the site over to you. (No worries, I’ll still be writing for this site.)

So here’s my question: Will you be part of this new site? We have an ongoing need for people with research skills, volunteers to help mediate cases, writers with a strong, pro-consumer voice, and contributors.

We need you. I need you.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please send me an email and I’ll add you to our list of contributors.

Here’s the full text of the announcement:


July 8, 2013

McLean, Va. – USA TODAY announced that beginning today, author and consumer advocate Christopher Elliott will write a weekly travel column. “On Travel” will offer thought-provoking insights into the world of airlines, car rentals, cruises and hotels. The column will run in print in the Money section of USA TODAY and online in the Travel section on USATODAY.com. In addition, Elliott will be featured in an online video series called “ASK USA TODAY TRAVEL,” for which he will answer travel questions from USA TODAY readers.

“Chris has distinguished himself with a long track record of selfless advocacy on behalf of travelers,” said David Callaway, editor-in-chief of USA TODAY. “As we add more industry-leading voices to USA TODAY, he’s a terrific addition to our team.”

Elliott is the reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler, a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services, and writes the “Navigator” column for the Washington Post travel section. He’s the author of the upcoming book, “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler”
(National Geographic Books, 2014).

Elliott is the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group for travelers. His journalism credits include hosting a cable TV show about travel, co-hosting a nationally-syndicated radio talk show, and writing one of the first online travel columns. He currently blogs at his consumer advocacy website, Elliott (www.elliott.org), and is one of LinkedIn’s Thought Leaders for travel. Elliott is based in Orlando, but is on a round-the-world journey with his family for their family-travel blog, Away is Home (www.awayishome.com).

USA TODAY is a multi-platform news and information media company. Founded in 1982, USA TODAY’s mission is to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation. Through its unique visual storytelling, USA TODAY delivers high-quality and engaging content across print, digital, social and video platforms. An innovator of news and information, USA TODAY reflects the pulse of the nation and serves as the host of the American conversation – today, tomorrow and for decades to follow. USA TODAY and USATODAY.com reach a combined six million readers daily. USA TODAY is a leader in mobile applications with more than 17 million downloads on mobile devices. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Tanja Rieck

    Congratulations!!! You have so much to be proud of…I have always enjoyed your site and seeing you in my Sunday paper. How great to start seeing you in USA Today. I look forward to seeing how this site changes as you expand your writers and others to help support the site. Much success to you and your new endeavors!

  • http://rebeccariverawritingwell.blogspot.com rebrivved

    USA Today is lucky to have you. And so are your new readers. So glad your advice and advocacy will now reach even more people!

  • bigheartinnewyork

    Congratulations!!! Great debut article. Loved it. As a frequent reader of your blog, we are very happy with your joining USA Today. You picked a great topic for your debut column. Thanks. Completely agree and support your viewpoint. None of us is begging these airlines executives for merger. It is going to benefit the CEOs, no one else. We are completely opposed to it.

    American Airlines – US Airways merger is bad for consumers, bad for employees, bad for innovation and bad for airline industry. It is not good at all. In fact, we are already seeing cockiness of American Airlines that it is a done deal. Once the merger goes through it will be disastrous for consumers. It needs to be stopped.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Thank you!

  • Bill___A

    Congratulations, Chris.

  • http://werelivingafulllife.blogspot.com/ jen

    Terrific news! You’ve earned it. The truth is the consumer is hungry for good advice and an occasional intervention on their behalf.

  • Travel Grammie

    Big congratulations. You are a great example of how it is still possible to not only “make a living” in journalism, but to thrive and lead the way to the new journalism model.

  • sanibelsyl

    Good debut article. Not one to believe that bigger equals better, your argument against the merger makes sense. Now let’s see if the government can think through this as a consumer advocate does.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Congrats. That is good news for you!

  • Chuck Kellner

    Chris, congrats! You’ve done a great job here. The greater your readership, the greater your impact, and we can all use that extra help with travel service providers and regulators.

  • BobChi

    As a sometime critic, I’d like to join in the congratulations. Though we may not always agree, yours is an important voice and role and I look forward to the ideas and conversation.

  • Karen Kinnane

    Wow! Double Wow! Great news! CONGRATULATIONS! USA IS lucky to have you as their voice of the traveler! there isn’t anyone better suited for this great opportunity.

  • LTMG

    Tongue firmly in cheek, I see that you use the word “cultivated” in the second paragraph. Do you mean to use that word as an adjective or as part of the verb?

    Congratulations for the recognition you’ve earned over the years. Richly deserved.

  • Michelle

    Mazel tov! Very happy for you. Much deserved for all of your hard work and dedication. We appreciate all you do to help us weary, frustrated travelers!

  • BMG4ME

    Congratulations on your new spot with USA Today, I wish you lots of success except I hope you are not successful in your message in the first article since I disagree so much with you on this one. Just taking one point, about United and Continental. United was a lousy airline before the merger with Continental, not because of the merger with Continental. Contrast that with American being one of the top two full service airlines in terms of good service (the other being Delta – which by the way also merged with a not so great airline and came out on top). I predict that the merged American and US Airways will be much better than American on its own, and will have the added advantage that I’ll no longer have to travel US Airways which is the worse airline. Of course it’s possible that US Airways could drag down American to its own standard but I have confidence that the management of the combined airline will ensure the good in American remains.

  • Molly S

    Chris, CONGRATS, and no surprise to me. I always thought you were destined to greatness. Just don’t forget “little ole us” and you climb to the top!