New on Elliott: Playing the ratings game, becoming a better customer, and more tarmac trouble – Sponsored by

By | November 4th, 2011

We’ve just returned from Palm Coast, Fla., the latest stop on our Away is Home adventure, and there’s so much going on, I hardly have room for all of it.

You’ve gotta check out my investigation into hotel ratings in the latest issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Also, see my advice on becoming the ideal customer (just in time for the holiday shopping season!) on (By the way, if you haven’t tried, you should. There’s an excellent app for the iPhone and iPad, too.)

We also have some really heated discussions on the site this week, from to getting your freak on with the TSA.

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Are you missing the most fascinating debate on the Internet? Every morning, there’s a lively discussion online about travel and consumer advocacy. And unless you’re signed up for my free daily email newsletter, you’re missing it. At 9 a.m. sharp, you’ll get a link to the latest story. Stop by. Leave your opinion. Join the debate. Here’s how to sign up.

Related story:   Can you trust the TSA?


The ratings game
As any frequent traveler already knows, there’s no consistency among American hotel ratings. But garden-variety guests like you or me could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

The Travel Troubleshooter: A broken Disney Vacation Club promise
David Willard is offered help with making a booking at a Disney Vacation Club — a promise Disney reneges on after his salesman goes on medical leave. Is there any way to get Mickey to keep his word?

Case dismissed: “The insurance will not cover our tickets”
Beware of the pre-existing medical conditions clause in your travel insurance policy! Oh alright, maybe that’s a little dramatic. But could you at least pay attention to it? I mention this because of Ingrid Murray, whose claim against Access America recently crossed my desk and then made its way into the “dismissed” file.

Ridiculous or not: Just who does the TSA think it is?
Hardly a day seems to go by that I don’t get a complaint about the Transportation Security Administration.

Is this too much compensation? Airline removed me a because of confusion about medical supplies
Here’s an unusual case with an equally unusual resolution. It involves two Lufthansa passengers, and FDA-approved portable oxygen concentrator and EU airline passenger law.

Can this trip be saved? If “everything is covered” why are you charging me for this flat tire?
One of the most common car rental complaints I get — no, the most common — involves travelers who declined the optional collision-damage waiver and ended up with what what they believe to be a fraudulent claim. But it rarely goes the other way.

Related story:   Elliott's E-Mail: April 13, 2008