Bioraven/Shutterstock

Bioraven/Shutterstock

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

□ DON’T FALL FOR IT!

It’s been five short years since the airline industry, led by an ailing American Airlines, quietly stripped the ability to check your first bag at no extra cost from the price of an airline ticket — an act given the antiseptic name “unbundling.” Details in my USA Today column.

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are customized prices good for you?
What if your company could offer a custom price just for you? There’s been a lengthy debate about airlines, who want to do this, but I was wondering what you think. Is a “only you” airfare or hotel rate going to be good for you? As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

When do you call it a day?
“Let’s just go home.” If you’ve ever said it — or yelled it — to your family in exasperation, then you should join us sometime. Not a trip seems to go by for us when one of us, or all of us, at least mutter it under our breath. On our family travel site Away is Home, we ask: Have you ever ended a trip early — and why?

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

3 signs a company cares about you
Memo to corporate America: Your customers are not walking dollar bills. You don’t have to be a consumer advocate to know that. Just attend a random corporate event and you’ll see that companies don’t always see their customers the way they should. Here are the sorry details.

Q&A: Do I need car rental insurance?
I answer that question in my latest USA Today Q&A video. See it here.

Why don’t we end the silly rules that make flying a misery?
When it comes to air travel, there’s a growing rift between informed and uninformed passengers. And it’s terrible. Here’s why.

A few shockers in my September mailbox
It took the better part of this weekend, but it looks like I’ve sorted through my September mailbag. And I found a few surprises.

Look out! Here comes electronic fuel metering
Karen Freeman thought that she’d returned her Chrysler 200 Sedan to the Richmond airport with a full tank. She thought wrong.
“An agent noted that the tank was full,” says Freeman, an architect from Atlanta. It wasn’t. Find out why.

A shabby vacation rental and a missing refund
When Carol Swartz tries to check in to a condo in New Hampshire, she finds the unit in a state of disrepair. Now the site through which she booked the rental is refusing a refund, despite a written guarantee. Can it do that?

Should I help passengers with their United Airlines “zero” fares?
At 2:47 p.m. today, I received the first email from reader Nancy O’Neill. She wanted to know if a “zero” fare she’d just found on the United Airlines website would be honored. I’m sure it won’t be the last one.

Hey Travelzoo, you call that a winery tour and gourmet lunch?
Bob McIntyre and his wife have just suffered through the worst meal ever at a struggling winery. Can they get their money back?

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Next week I’ll be coming to you from Galveston, Texas. See y’all there!