GunnarShutterstock

GunnarShutterstock

This is the online version of Elliott’s E-Mail. You can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email.

□ ARE CUSTOM FARES GOOD OR EVIL?

Behind the scenes, the propellerheads who create your fares are working on a smarter way to sell tickets. The airline industry is developing technology standards that could serve up a special fare intended only for you, based on how often you fly, where you live, your gender, age or marital status. Details are in my USA Today column.

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Which travel traditions should we bring back?
Remember when everyone dressed in their Sunday best before they flew? Neither do I. But it’s just one of several traditions that people wish would return to travel. Which other travel traditions do you miss, and why? As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Become a 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

My biggest mistake
Somewhere in the attic of my old house in Key Largo, Fla., a reminder of my biggest consumer mistake ever is collecting dust. I’ve never told anyone about it. Until now. Read the rest in my latest Mint.com post.

“Unintentional things can and do happen during flights”
Before I tell you about Justin Cohen’s case, there are one or two things he wants everyone to know. He likes kids. He’s a former teacher and has a “high tolerance” for unruly youngsters. Except maybe on an overseas flight where he’s seated next to a kid that doesn’t stop whimpering, whining and screaming for the entire trip. Can this trip be saved?

There’s no such thing as “free” when you travel
Chase lied. United Airlines lied. At least that’s how Marc Blumenthal sees it. When United offered him a United MileagePlus Explorer Card, which included a “free checked bag” for cardholders, it misrepresented the product in a significant way. But did it really? Here’s the discussion (viewer discretion advised).

Why some air travelers are pulling a “no show”
Even though he couldn’t use his airline ticket, Eric Smith refused to cancel his reservation on a United Airlines flight from Omaha to Baltimore. The reason? Smith, a technician at an aerospace company in Montgomery Village, Md., ran a few numbers, with frustrating results. Here’s what happened next.

A rental car bill I don’t think I deserve
After a grill falls off her rental car, Alamo sends her a bill for $669. Does she have to pay? Maybe, maybe not.

What to do when Ashley’s Home Care is a no-show
The $99 voucher Gabi Tanis bought through LivingSocial for power washing is worthless. Making matters worse, the company won’t refund her money. What now?

Are you a whining customer? 3 ways you can tell
No one likes a whiner. Crybabies rarely get what they want, and even when they do, they end up looking ridiculous. If you don’t believe me, just spend a few minutes reading the comments on my consumer advocacy site. Or watch this video of a woman who missed her flight. Enough said.

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Hello from Coeur d’Alene, Id. Since we last reported in, we’ve been everywhere — up to Glacier National Park, to a dude ranch in Montana and hiking around Idaho. You can catch up on our family travel blog or by “liking” our Facebook page. Later this week, we’ll do something we haven’t done in a decade. We’re flying on a certain airline on a certain very special day. Can you guess?