Does outsourcing go too far — or not far enough?

Feng Yu/Shutterstock
Feng Yu/Shutterstock

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


If you think the outsourcing and off-shoring of American jobs has gone too far, you might think twice before flying on United Airlines. The airline recently fired 220 airport employees and as of Oct. 15 will be contracting its ramp and customer service jobs at airports from Albany, N.Y., to Tucson, Ariz. Read the details in my USA Today column.


Do you know enough about your airline passenger rights?
Airlines claim we already have enough information about our rights as passengers. Consumer advocates don’t think so, and want airports to post “know your rights” posters in America’s airports. What do you think? Do you know enough about your legal rights when you fly? Can you think of a time when you were flying and didn’t know something, but wish you did? Please send me an email. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Greetings from Seattle
We’re on the last part of our five-week West Coast tour. It’s been an amazing, enlightening, educational and entertaining experience. Here’s my dispatch from the Oregon coast and my apology for missing so many of my friends while I was there; I will catch you next time around, I promise. You’ll find daily pictures from me on my personal Facebook page or on our Away is Home site.

Wanna become the world’s smartest traveler?
I know you do. Then do this now: 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. Here’s my email address.


3 tips for dealing with the scammiest industry on earth
When it comes to email, which industry do you trust the most? If you guessed social media, congratulations. It topped the latest Agari Email TrustIndex, which measures the adoption of essential email authentication standards across several industries. How about the lowest score? Betcha you can’t guess.

For you, a special price: more!
Mark Hegeberg thought National would reward him with a lower price in exchange for his loyalty to the car rental company. So when he was looking for a car in Mexico, he clicked on the company’s website and volunteered his Emerald Club number. It didn’t.

A problem with your reservation? Maybe your travel agency should pay
When Jennifer Forbes and her husband checked in for a recent flight from Richmond to Freeport, Bahamas, they discovered that there are worse ways to start a vacation than having an invalid ticket. Much worse. The airline on which they had reservations, Bahamasair, didn’t even serve Richmond. Here’s what happened next.

A surprise $250 smoking fee from my hotel — but I don’t smoke!
Seth Elsen receives a mysterious $250 charge on his credit card after staying at a La Quinta hotel. Now the property’s general manager is hiding from him, he says. Can he get a refund? Find out.

ADT is stonewalling me — should I stop paying my bill?
Krishnan Ramanathan is being double-billed for his home security system. Should he just stop paying it? Here’s the answer.


I can’t believe summer is more or less over. It’s time to start thinking about all of our fall and winter travels. Where are you going? I’d love to hear about your upcoming travel plans, and of course I’ll be writing about the experience too. I just can’t help myself.

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.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • AirlineEmployee

    Well Christopher, I’m (unpleasantly) surprised your “pro” take on airline outsourcing in the USAToday article. Your comments pretty clearly endorse, condone and will perpetuate outsourcing. Can’t believe you’re saying it’s okay as long as these vendored employees meet the standards of the carrier. What happened to jobs Americans need ?, jobs that some airline employees have had for decades ?; and with it experience that can’t be matched by vendored third parties who think it so exciting to wear a red jacket with no airline markings who are nothing but bag-taggers, information givers and kiosk button pushers.

    Check out AA at LaGuardia – the lobby staff (in front of the ticket counter) are vendored employees who know nothing. The quality of life is abyssmal. When there are irregular ops or ticketing problems/ exchanges (usually associated with such), they have to refer passengers to the handful of “real” AA agents behind the ticket counter. What a cluster to be seen there (recently experienced by myself and family members during bad-weather delays etc.). We were shuttled from this useless area to the long ticket counter line and finally to a real AA employee who helped us (eye-rolling and commiserating with our complaints).

    How can ANY airline who wants to give good CUSTOMER SERVICE and a good EXPERIENCE just hand these jobs over to a vendor who will pay peanuts to part-time employees (and no benefits) who wouldn’t know an airline ticket (paper or electronic) if they tripped over it. I don’t work for AA but work for another airline (not in NY) and I am thoroughly disgusted at this prospect – just a matter of time. I hope your readers become thorough travel experts and troubleshooters because in a few short years they will have only robotic responses or exposure to inexperienced third-party vendors.