FUNDRAISER

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about travel insurance (but were afraid to ask)

If you have a question about travel insurance, don’t worry. We’ve probably already answered it on our new frequently-asked questions about travel insurance page. The section went live a few minutes ago.

Want to know if you need travel insurance? Or the biggest travel insurance “gotcha”? Or how to file a claim? How long an appeal takes? It’s all there on a single, easy-to-read page.
Continue reading…


You’re going to want to see this

We interrupt this post to bring you an important message: Consumer advocacy sites like this one are not self-sustaining. Without your help, they will end.

Become an underwriter now and you won’t just help keep this site and quality, uncompromising consumer advocacy journalism going. You’ll also have chance to win a weekend van rental from Bandago or moneysaving guidebooks from our friends at the Alaska TravelGram.

Why would you want to join these brave readers who have supported this site and newsletter for 2013?

Because you need this site.

The next time you have a problem with a product or service, where will you turn?

Are you going to dispute the charge with your credit card, an action that may or may not be successful? Are you going to appeal to the company, spending hours on hold?

Maybe you’ll take your case to one of those “expert” blogs, where you’ll just be scolded for not having the encyclopedic knowledge of the industry that they have.

You know the saying, “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.” It’s true for consumer advocates, too.

Can you really afford that?

Publishing a consumer advocacy blog takes time and money. For the last 16 years, I’ve given this site every available minute of free time. That’s because like you, I care deeply about quality service and fairness. I want everyone to get what they paid for, regardless of the income or loyalty status.

People say, “Follow your passion, and the money will come.” But they’ve never published a consumer advocacy site.

Let’s just say advertisers don’t love my site. There are a lot of people who really want me to stop publishing. Why? Because I’m the only thing standing between them having their way with their customers.

We’re almost halfway toward meeting our $10,000 goal for our February fundraiser. I know we can do this.

If you become a new underwriter at any level now, your name will be entered in a drawing for a weekend van rental. Also, the first 10 underwriter at the patron level will receive a copy of the Alaska TravelGram, a book with tens of thousands of dollars worth of savings.

I hope you’ll support this worthy cause. We only have a few days left in February. Please help keep one of the last few remaining voices for the consumer alive online.

I’m counting on you.


What do Minor Trips, Scottevest and the Seattle TourSaver have in common?

highway2It’s not a trick question. You can win valuable premiums from these three companies for supporting this site and newsletter. Right now.

Alright, maybe I’m not as clever as Ira Glass with my fundraisers, or as convincing as the talking heads on PBS. But the fact remains that this site exists because of you, the traveler.

The fact also remains that there’s really nothing like this site out there. There are lots of terrific news organizations that rely on advertising, and many excellent travel blogs that are run by hobbyists. But I don’t know of another site that advocates for travelers every day.
Continue reading…


Elliott’s E-Mail/May 7, 2008

Read this week’s issue online or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In this issue …

See you in court?
Yellow fever, red light: paperwork problem sinks Costa Rica vacation
Room with a wrong view
Beware of this Cancun all-inclusive fax scam
Paperwork problems
How to reach yours truly
Support this site

This issue of Elliott’s E-Mail is underwritten by ExpertFlyer, which empowers the frequent flier like no other site. Get the details here.

FIRST | Random thoughts about the week in travel

See you in court? Given the current state of the travel industry, no one should be surprised, that more people are heading to court to settle their differences with an airline, car rental company or hotel. In this week’s MSNBC column, I break it down for you. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts on a wide range of fascinating topics, from fax scams in Cancun to Yellow Fever-induced paperwork problems.

You did it! Many thanks to everyone who participated in the spring fundraiser. Your financial support has ensured that this site’s survivial. Congratulations to Joan Moyers and James Cozart, who will receive an Expertflyer subscriptions. If you meant to become an underwriter, there’s still time. Here are the details.

Burning question … housecleaning hell? Have you recently had a run-in with an insistent hotel maid? They have a schedule to keep, and sometimes don’t let little things like “do not disturb” signs get in the way of their job. What’s your story? Send me a note and please don’t forget to include your full name, city and occupation.

Have you seen Tripso lately? If not, you really should. The all-new Tripso has a cool new blog, great columns and a hoppin’ discussion forum called TalkingTravelers.com. Come on by.

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Carrentals.co.uk, which provides the easiest and quickest way to search for car hire on the web. Our car rental search engine will compare the market in seconds and provide you with prices from up to 40 car hire suppliers. Cheap car hire is one search away!

BLAZIN’ HOT BLOG POST | What’s burning up my bandwidth this week?

Yellow fever, red light: paperwork problem sinks Costa Rica vacation — Whose responsibility is your travel-related paperwork, like visas and vaccinations? If you said “mine” — you’re right. (From Elliott Blog) JOIN THE DISCUSSION — leave your comment!

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Cheapflights.com, which lets you search and compare flights to find the lowest-priced airfare for your next trip. Get the details at Cheapflights.com.

SIGHTINGS | Noted Elliott appearances online and offline

Room with a wrong view — Bob Ledford is promised a room with a two-sided ocean view when he books through Expedia. But when he arrives, the view isn’t what he expected, the hotel doesn’t seem to care, and Expedia won’t post the negative review of the resort. What’s wrong with this picture? (From The Troubleshooter)

See you in court: 5 times when you should just sue ’em — Lately, I’ve noticed people’s patience with the traditional complaint process — writing a letter, waiting for a reply, sending a probable appeal — is wearing thin. It’s as if they know they’ll be turned down and think they have a better chance of getting compensated by getting the law involved immediately. (From MSNBC.com)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by skoobadesign.com, designers of top-rated, award-winning cases and accessories for laptops and other tech/travel gear. Named “best buy” by a major independent consumer magazine, as well as leading technology, travel and general interest publications. Elliot’s E-Mail Subscribers get 20 percent off, plus free shipping (UPS Ground/48 States) on all Skooba Design orders of $50 or more. Just enter coupon code ELLIOTT20 at checkout. Some restrictions apply. Here are the details.

BLOGGED | New posts on Elliott’s Blog

Beware of this Cancun all-inclusive fax scam — You already know that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. But clever scammers also know that you have an “override” button. Like invoking a well-known travel brand. Or using the name of a trusted media outlet. (From Elliott Blog)

Point taken: how hotels deny your hard-earned awards — Poof! There go your hard-earned points. Employees at budget hotels are using a variety of strategies to deny travelers their rewards, including typing the wrong name in a guest’s reservation or failing to include important frequent-stayer information. (From Elliott Blog)

Life in the Fast Lane: Transportation Department goes blogging — Is there a federal agency out there that doesn’t have a blog? The U.S. Transportation jumped into the blogosphere today with a site called Fast Lane that promises postings from none other than Secretary Mary Peters and other senior officials. (From Elliott Blog)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by FirstClassFlyer.com, the only tool you need to fly first class for the price of coach — or close to it. Looking for free and purchased upgrades, two-for-ones and a fast-track to elite status strategies? Look no further than FirstClassFlyer.com

FLASHBACK | A retrospective from the Elliott archives

Paperwork problems. More document dilemmas.

Your passport’s no good — An American Airlines ticket agent tells Nancy Dreher that she can’t board her flight to Costa Rica. It seems her passport is valid — but not valid enough. That ends Dreher’s vacation, but now the airline won’t respond to her requests for a refund. What, if anything, does the airline owe this passenger? (From The Troubleshooter)

Passports: who needs ‘em? Who cares? — When it comes to passports, Americans are ignorant. And stupid. That’s the conclusion of a survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association and marketing firm Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell. (From Elliott Blog)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Priceline.com, the leading travel service for value-conscious leisure travelers. With both Name Your Own Price and everyday fixed low prices, no other travel service gives more ways to save on their airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. No one does deals like Priceline.com!

TALKBACK | How to sound off about this site

Read something you disagree with? Got a story idea or a gripe? Here’s how to be heard:

• Send me an e-mail. I’m at elliottdotorg on every major e-mail provider — AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. I’m also reachable at the same e-mail address I’ve always had, of course.
• Call me. My direct phone number is (407) 699-9529.
• Send me an instant message on Gmail.
• Shoot me a note or chat by video on AIM.
• Skype me. My username is christopherjelliott.
• Find me on MySpace.
• Link to me on LinkedIn.
• Catch me on Facebook.
• See me on Flickr.

• Find out what I’m doing now on Twitter.
• Post a response below an article, in the “Comment on this article” field.
• Contact me with this handy feedback form.

Please note: Unless you specify otherwise, all e-mails, letters and phone conversations are considered “on the record.” That means your name could be used in a future article.

BECOME AN UNDERWRITER | How to support Elliott

This site relies on support from travelers like you. If you care about journalism that’s uncompromising, cutting-edge and consumer-focused, then please consider becoming an underwriter. Here are the details.

Having technical trouble? Please send a note describing your problem we’ll do our best to help.


Elliott’s E-Mail/April 30, 2008

Read this week’s issue online or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In this issue …

This is your last chance
Bumping games: how American redefined ‘denied boarding’
What not to wear on a plane
It’s ALIVE! Race to create world’s worst airline heats up
Denied boarding!
How to reach yours truly
Support this site

Support this site and get a get a subscription to ExpertFlyer. This is your last chance to be part of the spring fundraiser. Three lucky underwriters will get a one-year subscription to ExpertFlyer, an invaluable booking tool for frequent travelers. Here’s how to become an underwriter.

This issue of Elliott’s E-Mail is underwritten by Carrentals.co.uk, which provides the easiest and quickest way to search for car hire on the web. Our car rental search engine will compare the market in seconds and provide you with prices from up to 40 car hire suppliers. Cheap car hire is one search away!

FIRST | Random thoughts about the week in travel

This is your last chance. It’s the final week of our fundraiser, and your last opportunity to cast a protest vote against the way travelers are being treated. The travel industry wishes you wouldn’t, but with four airlines in the throes of a merger that will hurt air travelers and with new fees popping up everywhere you turn, I’ve gotta ask: why wouldn’t you? Here are 10 good reasons to support Elliott’s E-Mail. Come on, what are you waiting for? Here are the details.

Thank you! My sincere thanks to underwriters Kenneth Akin, Lila Davis and Jeff Hyman. You’ve won the Shuttle laptop backpacks or Skreener courier-style laptop bags. Please e-mail me with your bag and color choice. And congratulations to Jonathan Nash, Bob Lamb, Terry Parker, Letcher Ross and Donald Palazzo, who won copies of the Penny Pincher book. Remember, this week we’re giving away the Expertflyer subscriptions!

Burning question … Boarding priority? Do any airline’s boarding procedures make sense? Which ones don’t make sense? If you could change one thing about boarding a plane, what would it be? Send me a note and please don’t forget to include your full name, city and occupation.

Join TalkingTravelers.com. There’s a new site out there called TalkingTravelers.com. It’s a place where travelers can go to talk about their last trip and interact with other like-minded travelers. Come on by.

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Cheapflights.com, which lets you search and compare flights to find the lowest-priced airfare for your next trip. Get the details at Cheapflights.com.

BLAZIN’ HOT BLOG POST | What’s burning up my bandwidth this week?

Bumping games: how American redefined ‘denied boarding’ — It was bound to happen, given that airlines are now required to double their compensation for passenger who are involuntarily denied boarding. If you can’t change the rule, just change the definition of “denied boarding.” (From Elliott Blog) JOIN THE DISCUSSION — leave your comment!

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by G1G.com, the household name in global travel protection. G1G Insurance Services has nearly 20 years of experience in providing insurance products. Find a policy now.

SIGHTINGS | Noted Elliott appearances online and offline

That’s some cleaning bill! — Bart Everson’s bill at an Alabama resort includes a big surprise: a $166 “cleaning fee.” No, Everson didn’t trash the room; in fact, the charge hits his credit card before he even checks in. The fine print in his reservation does mention a cleaning fee, but doesn’t say how much he’ll be charged. Does he still have to pay? (From The Troubleshooter)

What not to wear on a plane — What to wear on a plane — or more to the point, what not to wear on a plane — is a hot topic today for a number of reasons. Not only are we heading into the warm summer months, when air travelers commit a majority of these sartorial slip-ups, but the gap between what we should wear on a commercial flight, and what we do wear, appears to be widening. (From MSNBC.com)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by skoobadesign.com, designers of top-rated, award-winning cases and accessories for laptops and other tech/travel gear. Named “best buy” by a major independent consumer magazine, as well as leading technology, travel and general interest publications. Elliot’s E-Mail Subscribers get 20 percent off, plus free shipping (UPS Ground/48 States) on all Skooba Design orders of $50 or more. Just enter coupon code ELLIOTT20 at checkout. Some restrictions apply. Here are the details.

BLOGGED | New posts on Elliott’s Blog

It’s ALIVE! Race to create world’s worst airline heats up — Just when air travelers thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have. The competition to create the world’s worst airline is heating up, and the losers have already been decided. We are the losers. (From Elliott Blog)

Oh no they didn’t! Hotel charges guest $37 for incoming phone calls — Here’s a clever twist on one of the most enduring hotel scams. Instead of charging an outrageous markup on outgoing phone calls made from a room — a practice that’s generating less and less money because guests are simply switching to cheaper cell phones — one property has figured out a way to reverse the equation. It’s evidently charging guests for incoming calls. (From Elliott Blog)

The problem with paperless boarding passes? Batteries aren’t included — We have word today that the Transportation Security Administration and Continental Airlines are expanding their rollout of the Paperless Boarding Pass pilot program to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Newark International Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston. I have a problem with that. (From Elliott Blog)

New emissions calculator reveals true cost of your flight — Forget high airfares. You don’t know the real cost of your next airline trip until you figure out how much of the environment you’ve destroyed. At least that’s the idea behind a new calculator by Stanford researchers that puts a pollution pricetag on air travel. (From Elliott Blog)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by FirstClassFlyer.com, the only tool you need to fly first class for the price of coach — or close to it. Looking for free and purchased upgrades, two-for-ones and a fast-track to elite status strategies? Look no further than FirstClassFlyer.com

FLASHBACK | A retrospective from the Elliott archives

Denied boarding! More bumping stories.

You call that a weather delay? — I recently endured a 30-hour delay on an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Pittsburgh via Chicago. Although the delay was initially caused by the weather, I believe it was exacerbated by the airline’s inadequate and inconsistent customer care practices. (From The Troubleshooter)

“No customer will be denied boarding until we have asked for others to volunteer” — The airline industry is one of only a few businesses that is allowed to sell more of its product than it has. When a carrier overbooks one of its planes, it has what’s delicately called an “involuntary denied boarding” situation on its hands — meaning someone’s not going to get kicked off the flight. (From Elliott Blog)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Priceline.com, the leading travel service for value-conscious leisure travelers. With both Name Your Own Price and everyday fixed low prices, no other travel service gives more ways to save on their airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. No one does deals like Priceline.com!

TALKBACK | How to sound off about this site

Read something you disagree with? Got a story idea or a gripe? Here’s how to be heard:

• Send me an e-mail. I’m at elliottdotorg on every major e-mail provider — AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. I’m also reachable at the same e-mail address I’ve always had, of course.

• Call me. My direct phone number is (407) 699-9529.

• Send me an instant message on Gmail.

• Shoot me a note or chat by video on AIM.

• Skype me. My username is christopherjelliott.

• Find me on MySpace.

• Link to me on LinkedIn.

• Catch me on Facebook.

• See me on Flickr.

• Find out what I’m doing now on Twitter.

• Post a response below an article, in the “Comment on this article” field.

• Contact me with this handy feedback form.

Please note: Unless you specify otherwise, all e-mails, letters and phone conversations are considered “on the record.” That means your name could be used in a future article.

BECOME AN UNDERWRITER | How to support Elliott

This site relies on support from travelers like you. If you care about journalism that’s uncompromising, cutting-edge and consumer-focused, then please consider becoming an underwriter. Here are the details.


Elliott’s E-Mail/April 23, 2008

Read this week’s issue online or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In this issue …

So you want revenge?
A black mark against the black card? Here’s the sad saga of a Centurion slip-up
Tips to ensure the TSA doesn’t swipe your stuff
A “walking” scam: how hotels profit from overbooking
Hotel horror stories
How to reach yours truly
Support this site

Support this site and get a copy of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel. In addition to our Skoobadesign luggage giveaway, we’re offering five copies of Joel Widzer’s new book, the latest edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel, to new underwriters this week. It’s a terrific book that shows you how to get treated like royalty when you’re on the road. (Ahh, couldn’t we all use a little of that?) Winners will be picked at random. Here’s how to become an underwriter.

This issue of Elliott’s E-Mail is underwritten by Cheapflights.com, which lets you search and compare flights to find the lowest-priced airfare for your next trip. Get the details at Cheapflights.com.

FIRST | Random thoughts about the week in travel

So you want revenge? At a time when travelers are disenfranchised like never before, becoming an underwriter of Elliott’s E-Mail is a powerful statement — an act of civil disobedience, if you will. The travel industry wants nothing more than to silence this voice for customer rights. So as you ponder the latest barrage of fees we’ll have to pay this week, why not do something about it? Support Elliott’s E-Mail. Here are the details.

Thank you! My sincere thanks to underwriters Marjorie Purnell, Joan Schmelzle and Stephanus Surjaputra. You’ve won the Shuttle laptop backpacks or Skreener courier-style laptop bags. Please e-mail me with your bag and color choice. We’re giving away three more this week, so there’s still time to become an underwriter and score lots of booty.

Burning question … Do you fly “standby”? It used to be a great way to save money. But now, it’s a one-way ticket to paying a walk-up fare. Or is it? What’s your experience been? Send me a note and please don’t forget to include your full name, city and occupation.

Are you getting duplicate e-mails? If you’re getting duplicate copies of Elliott’s E-Mail, I need your help. Please forward the copies to our support e-mail address. We’ve tried to upgrade our e-mail program in the hopes that it would fix the problem, but we’re still getting reports of some duplicates going out. I’m sorry about that.

Join TalkingTravelers.com. There’s a new site out there called TalkingTravelers.com. It’s a place where travelers can go to talk about their last trip and interact with other like-minded travelers. Come on by.

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by G1G.com, the household name in global travel protection. G1G Insurance Services has nearly 20 years of experience in providing insurance products. Find a policy now.

BLAZIN’ HOT BLOG POST | What’s burning up my bandwidth this week?

A black mark against the black card? Here’s the sad saga of a Centurion slip-up — The American Express “black” card is legendary among upscale travelers. In order to qualify for the invitation-only card, you have to spend at least $250,000, plus pay $2,500 in annual fees. In exchange, you expect nothing but the best customer service. But that’s not always what you get. (From Elliott Blog) JOIN THE DISCUSSION — leave your comment!

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by skoobadesign.com, designers of top-rated, award-winning cases and accessories for laptops and other tech/travel gear. Named “best buy” by a major independent consumer magazine, as well as leading technology, travel and general interest publications. Elliot’s E-Mail Subscribers get 20 percent off, plus free shipping (UPS Ground/48 States) on all Skooba Design orders of $50 or more. Just enter coupon code ELLIOTT20 at checkout. Some restrictions apply. Here are the details.

SIGHTINGS | Noted Elliott appearances online and offline

Where are my airline vouchers? — After Myron Sigal’s wife is injured on a Mediterranean cruise, the Sigals can’t make their return flight from Venice to Philadelphia. US Airways promises them a voucher for the unused portion, but months later, there’s no sign of it. Is the money lost? (From The Troubleshooter)

Tips to ensure the TSA doesn’t swipe your stuff — Taking Something Always. That’s what TSA means to airline passengers like Edward Fleiss, a sales manager from Huntington, N.Y. When screeners inspected his wife’s carry-on bag at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport recently, he claims her designer eyeglasses were swiped. (From MSNBC.com)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by FirstClassFlyer.com, the only tool you need to fly first class for the price of coach — or close to it. Looking for free and purchased upgrades, two-for-ones and a fast-track to elite status strategies? Look no further than FirstClassFlyer.com

BLOGGED | New posts on Elliott’s Blog

A “walking” scam: how hotels profit from overbooking — Are high hotel occupancy rates offering hotels yet another opportunity to secretly profit from you? Consider the practice of “walking” — transferring a guest to another property when the inn is full. Most reputable resorts “walk” their customers to a comparable hotel. But what if the second place costs less than the first, and the property simply pockets the rate difference?(From Elliott Blog)

The top 8 travel blogs — and why you should care — Who’s got the biggest travel blog? It’s hard to tell — really hard, given the vagaries and imperfections of the blog ranking tools. But with a little research, you can generate a somewhat reliable list. (From Elliott Blog)

Travel trend: adding yourself to the ‘no fly’ list — Give up air travel altogether? You’ve probably heard whispers about it in the aftermath of cancellation-gate. And following United Airlines’ announcement yesterday that it would bump its change fee to $150 from $100 and add Saturday-night stay requirements to many of its flights, who can blame travelers for wanting to ground themselves? (From Elliott Blog)

Aren and Iden visit Disney’s Toy Story ride — The Elliott boys tried to visit the Toy Story ride at Disney Studios today. Here’s what happened. (From Elliott Blog)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Priceline.com, the leading travel service for value-conscious leisure travelers. With both Name Your Own Price and everyday fixed low prices, no other travel service gives more ways to save on their airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. No one does deals like Priceline.com!

FLASHBACK | A retrospective from the Elliott archives

Hotel horror stories. Reservations gone wrong.

A lost reservation in the rainforest — I’m having a problem getting a simple matter cleared up with Hotels.com. I booked a room at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama for two nights and received a confirmation number by e-mail. (From The Troubleshooter)

Best rate? No guarantee — was looking for a room rate on a one-night stay at the Niagara Falls Knights Inn in Ontario, Canada. I went to the hotel Web site and saw a button with a “manager’s special” with a good price, so I booked the room. (From The Troubleshooter)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by Carrentals.co.uk, which provides the easiest and quickest way to search for car hire on the web. Our car rental search engine will compare the market in seconds and provide you with prices from up to 40 car hire suppliers. Cheap car hire is one search away!

TALKBACK | How to sound off about this site

Read something you disagree with? Got a story idea or a gripe? Here’s how to be heard:

• Send me an e-mail. I’m at elliottdotorg on every major e-mail provider — AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. I’m also reachable at the same e-mail address I’ve always had, of course.
• Call me. My direct phone number is (407) 699-9529.
• Send me an instant message on Gmail.
• Shoot me a note or chat by video on AIM.
• Skype me. My username is christopherjelliott.
• Find me on MySpace.
• Link to me on LinkedIn.
• Catch me on Facebook.
• See me on Flickr.
• Find out what I’m doing now on Twitter.
• Post a response below an article, in the “Comment on this article” field.
• Contact me with this handy feedback form.

Please note: Unless you specify otherwise, all e-mails, letters and phone conversations are considered “on the record.” That means your name could be used in a future article.

BECOME AN UNDERWRITER | How to support Elliott

This site relies on support from travelers like you. If you care about journalism that’s uncompromising, cutting-edge and consumer-focused, then please consider becoming an underwriter. Here are the details.

Having technical trouble? Please send a note describing your problem we’ll do our best to help.