Good airline service? Yes, it’s possible, but …

Dabari/Shutterstock
Dabari/Shutterstock

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□ GOOD AIRLINE SERVICE? YES, IT’S POSSIBLE, BUT …

As Juanita Centanni boarded a recent Cayman Airways flight from Tampa to Grand Cayman, she braced herself for an awful travel experience. Find out why in my USA Today column. And join the lively debate!

□ 2014 IS ALMOST HERE

It’s true, we have even more exciting news to share with you early next year. More than I even thought we would next week. You’ll read about it here first!

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

When do you believe the apologies?
When things go bad, you’ll hear a lot of apologizing. But do you believe it? I’d love to hear your favorite recent examples of sincere — and insincere — apologies. Where do you draw the line? As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Help us make travel better
Are you tired of just reading about the latest consumer problems? Do you want to do something about it? Well, now you can. We need volunteers with strong research, mediation and analytics skills to help build a next-generation consumer organization. It’s gonna be big, and it launches in 2014. Here’s how to get involved.

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

3 Reasons Why It Might Be Smart to Distrust a Company
With the irrational holiday shopping season now in your rear-view mirror, this is a good time to consider how you feel about the companies to which you’ve just given half your life savings. Read more in my Mint.com column.

How do I find the best travel insurance policy?
If you’ve decided to buy a travel insurance policy, your next question should be: “Where?” Here are a few tips.

How absurd can airline junk fees get in 2014? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet
The intoxicating combination of junk fees and loyalty programs seems too powerful for even the most consumer-friendly airline to resist. Here’s what it means to you.

Missing miles on a United Airlines codeshare flight
Glennellen Pace and her husband are missing thousands of frequent flier miles after a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Is there any way to find them?

Why won’t United Airlines honor its fare guarantee?
Chuck Barnes tries to invoke United Airlines’ low fare guarantee. But it doesn’t quite work the way he hoped it would. Is he out of luck?

Let’s bring back good travel manners in 2014
When did travelers lose their manners? When did they stop saying “please” and “thank you,” start filling the entire overhead bin with their carry-on luggage and stop bathing? It’s time to turn this train around — and here’s how.

Please cancel my nonrefundable hotel room, Priceline
Tami Alloway needs to cancel her hotel stay because of “extenuating” personal circumstances. Just one problem: the reservations are non-refundable. Find out what happened next.

Help, I’m being harassed by the Food Network Magazine
Even though Bette Waterstreet has repeatedly told the Food Network Magazine she doesn’t want to renew, it’s not getting the message. Can anyone make the bills stop?

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Happy New Year, everyone. See you in 2014.

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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