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Christopher Elliott
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Christopher Elliott is the reader advocate for National Geographic
magazine and a travel columnist for the Washington Post and USA Today. He writes a syndicated column for King Features Syndicate and publishes a consumer advocacy blog. Elliott is the author of Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals. His latest book is How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle).

Entries by Christopher Elliott

Are Cruise Lines Doing Enough to Protect You?

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 11:25 AM


Pat Busovicki's Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream almost ended in a nightmare.

One afternoon, after plummeting down its Twister water slide, she says, she found herself trapped in a dangerous undertow. "I couldn't get out," remembers the retired librarian from Westlake,...

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What Airlines Can Learn From Car Dealerships -- And What It Means for You

(0) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 2:14 PM


When Loren Witkin says that he shopped around for a new car, you can take him at his word.

Witkin combed through his local newspaper, consulted the Kelley Blue Book and clicked on several auto-buying Web sites. Finally, he stumbled upon, a...

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This 'Minor' Airline Fee Is A Major Hassle

(167) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 6:54 AM


Airline junk fees come in all shapes and sizes, but this one may rank among the most bizarre. It comes to us by way of Andrea Hogan, who recently flew from Kauai to Dallas on Hawaiian Airlines.

"My eight-year old daughter and I...

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What To Do During Orlando's 'Frozen' Summer

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2014 | 11:35 AM


In August, there's only one certainty in Orlando: the heat.

It is always there, damp and overpowering. Morning, noon and night. There is no escape from it. The only respite -- if you can call it that -- is the late afternoon thunderstorm....

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Hey, Travelers, Don't Change Your Mind (Or This Could Happen)

(1) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 10:22 AM


Change your mind when you're traveling, and the consequences can be costly.

Most airline tickets are nonrefundable and require a hefty change fee plus any fare differential. And many hotel rooms are totally nonrefundable and nonchangeable, so you could lose the...

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Would You Buy a $1 Airfare? Congress May Be About to

(1) Comments | Posted July 20, 2014 | 12:16 PM


The U.S. House of Representatives' suspension calendar is an unlikely ground zero for a midsummer battle over airline ticket advertising. But then, almost nothing about the oddly named Transparent Airfares Act, a bill championed by the domestic airline industry, has followed a likely...

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Slushing in Utah at the End of Ski Season

(1) Comments | Posted June 22, 2014 | 7:26 AM


It's the last day of ski season in Utah. It's the end -- but it's also the beginning.

"A little warm," apologized the Deer Valley lift attendant.

You don't say? My son and I had just skied past a dude wearing shorts.


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Will Proposed Airline Rules Really Help Passengers?

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2014 | 8:49 AM


At 36,361 words, the document laying out the latest proposed Transportation Department passenger protection rule is an epic, a few pages longer than Franz Kafka's novella "The Metamorphosis."

Passenger advocates hope that after a 90-day comment period, the proposed regulation will bring positive...

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A Time Traveler's Adventure at the German Clock Museum

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2014 | 6:55 AM


Time flies, except when you're at the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen, Germany. There, time is relative, subject to the various interpretations of the clockmakers and philosophers who built these devices, but more importantly, who thought of time and created the very...

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What's Up With These Disappearing Airfares?

(1) Comments | Posted May 31, 2014 | 7:30 AM


Alina Novak's complaint had a familiar ring to it. While she was searching for an inexpensive round-trip ticket from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on, she stumbled upon a $177 airfare.

But when she clicked on the "buy" button, TripAdvisor...

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Why Are Travel Companies So Impatient With Us?

(2) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 8:09 AM


No one seems to know how the TV in Room 1018 of the Wyndham Avenue Plaza Resort in New Orleans ended up with several long, deep scratches on the screen that made it unwatchable. And if they do, they're not talking.

But here's...

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Will 'Transparent' Airfares Hurt Travelers?

(1) Comments | Posted April 27, 2014 | 8:31 AM


The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, which only a few weeks ago had virtually no chance of passing, now seems poised to become law.

Remarkably, the proposed legislation enjoys bipartisan support, even from Democrats with distinguished records of supporting consumer rights. Critics have...

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Can a Cruise Line Pocket Your Airfare Refund?

(1) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 12:01 PM


If you thought that reading the terms and conditions on your next travel purchase is enough to keep you out of trouble, meet Thomas Hanko.

The veteran cruiser had booked an air-inclusive cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Holland America Line for...

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Do Airlines Want to Hide the Real Cost of a Ticket? (POLL)

(3) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 10:32 AM


At best, the proposed Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, a bipartisan bill introduced this month in Congress, would open a window into the many taxes and mandatory fees attached to your airline ticket -- charges that the airline industry believes you should know...

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Should Congress Ban Cellphone Chatter on Planes? (POLL)

(7) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 8:14 AM


There's no worse form of torture for travelers like Jeanne Marchadie than having to endure the sound of people yakking on a cellphone in close quarters.

"I shudder to think about what's going to happen on planes if cellphones are allowed," says Marchadie,...

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Would You Buy a Cruise With an E-Check?

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 11:03 AM


As she paged through Viking River Cruises' glossy brochure one recent afternoon, Diane Moskal noticed a new way to save money: If she booked the Waterways of the Tsars itinerary sailing from Moscow to St. Petersburg with something called an e-check, the cruise...

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Smart Travel Advice: The More You Travel, the Bigger the World Becomes

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 10:59 AM


Don George describes himself as a "travel evangelist" but he is much more than that. Yes, he loves to talk about the life-changing possibilities of travel, which started for him when he visited Paris in college. But he is also a best-selling author...

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Don't Pet Rabid Dogs (and Other Smart Travel Advice)

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 10:29 AM


Andrew Evans wants to be everywhere. And he is. "I'm a travel addict," he says. Best known as National Geographic's Digital Nomad, Evans never stays in one place for very long. Last year he was on the road 300 days, racking up...

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For a Smarter Trip, Consult Your Concierge

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 10:27 AM


Like the rest of the smartest travelers in this series, Nyssa Chopra has lived everywhere -- Paris, New Delhi, London and Berlin, to name just a few places. With a background in diplomacy, international development and journalism, the nomadic lifestyle suited her, and...

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What to Do About a Disloyal Loyalty Program

(2) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 5:38 AM


To call Ron Giancoli a loyal US Airways customer might be something of an understatement. A sales manager from West Chester, Pa., he's flown on the airline -- which recently merged with American Airlines -- almost exclusively for the last three...

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