IrnaK/Shutterstock

IrnaK/Shutterstock

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□ WHY CAN’T AIRLINE TICKETS BE TRANSFERABLE?

As Ralph Santopietro sees it, Delta Air Lines had him over a barrel when he tried to change the dates on a flight from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Hartford, Conn. Find out why in my USA Today column.

□ ARE YOU READY FOR 2014?

I’m beyond thrilled, because I’ve just learned that I’m going to have even more exciting news to share with you early next year. There will be big changes and more than one surprise. You’ll read about it here first!

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

If the TSA is so good, why do we feel so bad?
These should be the best of times for air travelers. The TSA finally has given us Precheck, a system that lets us avoid the worst part of the screening process. So why do we still feel so bad about the agency assigned to protect America’s Transportation systems? Do tell. 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

Don’t get fooled by the fine print during the holidays
When Ben Blout invoked a big-box store’s “low price promise” after discovering a lower price on his merchandise, he learned something customers rediscover every holiday shopping season: some restrictions apply. Make that lots of restrictions.

An inconvenient truth about loyalty programs
Is your loyalty for sale? Would you remain true to a company, no matter what it does, in exchange for a platinum card or the promise of “free” or discounted product? I hope not — and here’s why.

What are airline ticket credits really worth?
Bethany Tully might have been forgiven for her confusion. After canceling an upcoming flight from San Francisco to Boston under unhappy circumstances, she discovered that her ticket credit on United Airlines was worth about half what she expected — an increasingly common complaint among air travelers. Find out what happened next.

Why won’t Starwood let me change my reservation?
Carol Pratt is stuck with three pre-paid nights at a Starwood Hotel. Even though she wants to move the reservation by a few days, the hotel won’t let her without losing all of her money. What’s going on?

My Toyota Sienna needs your help
Philip Boutelle’s minivan is a money pit and Toyota doesn’t seem to care, even though it issued a limited recall. Can this car be saved?

5 things customers say during the holidays – and what they really mean
It’s that time of year when you follow the herd to the mall and gorge on the displays. Here’s what you need to know.

Missed their honeymoon, but whose fault is it?
From time to time, a case crosses my desk that leaves me a little cross-eyed. Melissa Davenport’s does all that, and more.

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Happy holidays from all of us at the Elliott ranch. I’m incredibly optimistic about 2014, and I hope you’ll join me for even more consumer advocacy, industry insights and commentary.