As airlines cut costs, have they done passengers a favor?

BochcarevShutterstock
BochcarevShutterstock

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□ PSST! Want to make a difference? Here’s how you can support the consumer advocacy on this site and newsletter.

□ THANK YOU, AIRLINES?

What annoys you the most about air travel? Is it the chaos that awaits when you pull up to the curb at the airport terminal this time of year? How about the indignity of being screened by the TSA? Or maybe just knowing that you’re paying more but getting so much less? Details are in my USA Today column.

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Should airline tickets be transferrable?
Ever wished you could just give your airline ticket to a friend or relative, instead of having to pay a $200 change fee or losing your credit entirely? I’d like to hear your stories of ticket credits lost, especially if they might have been savable with an easy rule change. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Travel not as advertised – has this ever happened to you?
It’s a problem as old as the travel business. You arrive at a destination and find the product wasn’t as advertised. The beach turned out to be a sandless cove. The pool is closed. The tennis courts are closed. They advertised these facilities in the brochure, but now that you’re here, they don’t exist. Has that ever happened to you? If so, how did you deal with these missing amenities? Tell me what happened to you, please.

Become a much smarter traveler
Pre-order my new book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). It’ll help you navigate the ins and outs of the travel industry and save lots of time and money. Details are right here. By the way, if you’re heading out somewhere on a trip and need help with something, I’d be happy to email you a draft of a chapter, whether you order the book or not.

Let’s talk!
The stories you see in this newsletter are just a starting point. I hope you’ll take a minute to leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with something I’ve written. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. I’m listening. And of course, I’m also here if you need me.

□ POSTS YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO MISS

Is your company loyal to you? Here’s how to tell
The call between Frank Alioto and his favorite cruise line went down like something straight out of a made-for-TV drama. You know that turning point where the hero actually turns out to be the villain? Just like that.Read the rest in my latest Mint.com post.

Mind you idioms in Idaho!
Like one or two frazzled parents before us, we’ve been known to invite our kids to take a long walk off a short pier. It usually happens when we’re at the end of a marathon road trip and the kids have been fidgeting and fighting in the back, like starving rats dropped into a maze, only not as polite. Read the details of our Idaho adventure on our family travel blog, Away is Home.

I have until Friday to cough up $14,000 – should I pay?
Given my backlog of cases, it’s unusual to cover something I just heard about a few hours ago. It’s even more unusual to redact the name of both the passenger and the airline. But this is a highly unusual case.

How coffee taught me how to be a consumer advocate
It’s one of the most common questions I get as a consumer advocate: How did you get that job? The answer: It started with coffee.

What is an airline credit really worth?
It happened to Louise Andrew twice last month. She made reservations on the United Airlines Web site, tried to cancel them within 24 hours for a full refund, and was told that the airline would be happy to issue a ticket credit instead. Here’s what happened next.

NEW SERIES: The world’s smartest traveler
Patricia Schultz is the author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die, an opus that took her eight years to finish. And nothing will make you smarter about travel than covering the most sought-after destinations in the world. Schultz cut her teeth in the publishing world by penning guidebooks about Europe. Here’s her best travel advice.

Hey US Airways, do you really want my eyeball to explode on a plane?
Jennene Colky can’t fly because she has a detached retina. Why won’t US Airways refund her ticket?

Help me get rid of these Craigslist calls!
A typographical error on a Craigslist ad has Amy Pollick’s cellphone ringing off the hook. Is there any way to stop the calls?

Decoding service-speak: 5 employee insults you need to know
Spend enough time around customer service agents and you understand that what they say and what they mean are often two very different things. That’s never more apparent than when they are talking directly to you.

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Many thanks to everyone who attended my incendiary speech on customer service and rental cars at the Auto Rental Summit in Miami last week. Hey, I survived! (Do ya think I’ll ever be invited to speak at another one?) I also wanted to give a shout-out to all my friends who attended the media panel I moderated at the STS Fall Forum in Jacksonville. That was fun, wasn’t it? If you can’t get enough of me, I’ll be on yet another panel tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Holmes Global PR Summit.

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 . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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