R.I.P., frequent flier mileage runs

Jeka84/Shutterstock
Jeka84/Shutterstock

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□ LOSS OF MILEAGE “RUNNERS” IS BAD NEWS FOR ALL OF US

It may be too early to write the obituary for frequent-flier mileage runs — those legendary year-end flights that offer a shortcut to an airline’s coveted “elite” status — but it’s easy to see the end from here. Details are in my USA Today column.

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Hey holiday travelers, how do you avoid a long delay?
I’m working on a story about holiday travel delays. Are there any apps, websites or general strategies you use in order to know if you’ll face a long delay in a terminal? As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Big data is … good?
There’s been a lively debate about surveillance in the wake of the NSA’s spying revelations. Travel companies collect a lot of information about you, probably more than the government. I want to hear from you if you’ve ever found that a business has collected information, and that it helped you have a better trip.

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

Why You Might Not Be Getting the Customer Service You Deserve
No one likes a whiner. They rarely get what they want, and even when they do, they end up looking ridiculous. Read the rest in my latest Mint.com post.

Yes, I have a “do not quote” list – here’s who’s on it
Who do I trust? The answer may matter to you more than you think, because the folks I call my sources become your sources. They add credibility and context to the customer service stories that you read on my consumer advocacy site. Here’s who is on the list.

How can you miss your national parks if they never go away?
Maybe we should thank the United States Congress for shutting down our government, which closed America’s national parks for 16 unbearably long days. I am. I explain why on our family travel blog, Away is Home.

Losing it over car rental “loss of use”
After Ben Harris dropped off his Mazda 3 rental at the airport in Maui last December, a Hertz agent pointed to some scuffed paint on the underside of the front bumper. Although the employee asked Harris to fill out an incident report, he assured Harris that it was just a formality and that he wouldn’t get a bill for the damage. Find out what happened next, and how it could affect your next rental.

Why can’t I change the name on my frequent flier award ticket?
Delta won’t make a name change on a mileage ticket, endangering one family’s cruise. Can this trip be saved?

Why doesn’t Target’s website work in South Korea?
Target.com doesn’t work in South Korea, and that’s a problem for Sean Bamrick, who is stationed there with his family. Can I help him unblock it?

Should companies break their own rules? Yes, and here’s when
Last week, when I suggested that consumers should sometimes apologize to a company, a few of you thought I had completely lost it. Were they right?

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Our visit to Jackson Hole, Wyo., was unforgettable. If you haven’t already seen Aren’s photo essay about our trip out west, you should check it out. He also re-interpreted some of his compelling wildlife shots we took in Wyoming. Oh, and remember when Kari left us to go to San Francisco? Here’s part one of her story.

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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