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Christopher Elliott
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Christopher Elliott is the reader advocate for National Geographic
Traveler
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

Travelers Go Beyond Voluntourism

(1) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 3:12 PM

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After hundreds of business trips and a vacation or two, Clement Quintyne's Briggs & Riley Rollaboard was ready for the recycler. The wheels were worn and the outside was frayed.

His wife, Debra, figured it was time for new luggage. But what to...

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Bogus Reps Anger Even More Comcast Customers

(7) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 7:56 AM

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It started with a message to @Comcastcares, the Twitter account for Comcast's customer service department.

"Without a doubt the worst customer service I've experienced," wrote Ryon Nishimori. "Google fiber can't come to Nashville soon enough."

Turns out Comcast was watching.

But apparently,...

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Comcast Changes Customer Name To "Wh*re" - and Worse

(103) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 3:13 PM

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The most shocking thing about a revelation that a Comcast employee changed a customer's name to "a**hole" was how shocked everyone was.

Readers reacted with indignation at my report that the company with the worst customer service scores in America would...

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The Travel Industry Loses Its Way in a Blizzard

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 12:00 PM

An epic blizzard bearing down on the East Coast of the United States today is forcing passengers to ask difficult questions about compassion and the travel industry that supposedly serves them.

It may be even more difficult for travel companies to answer them.

Airlines are waiving their strict ticket...

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Economy Class Gets An Upgrade... Wait, Make That a Downgrade

(24) Comments | Posted January 25, 2015 | 11:00 AM

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The lowly economy-class section is getting an upgrade in 2015. Or a downgrade, depending on your point of view.

At least two airlines are unveiling new coach class sections this spring. Alaska Airlines, with its Alaska Beyond service, will add custom leather seats,...

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Why Can't Airline Fees Be Refundable? Glad You Asked

(3) Comments | Posted January 15, 2015 | 9:36 AM

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The North American airline industry collected an estimated $8.2 billion last year from fees for items such as checked baggage, premium seat assignments and early boarding privileges -- a $700 million increase from 2013. But are they keeping more of your money than...

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Why Did the Government Stop Fining Travel Companies?

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 6:00 AM

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Government fines against airlines for consumer rule violations are on track to hit a six-year low as the U.S. Department of Transportation's enforcement actions shift from punishment to preventing infractions. With only a few weeks left in 2014, the DOT has issued 23...

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If Gas Is Cheap, Why Are Airfares So Expensive?

(3) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 11:41 AM

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If fuel prices are so low, why are air fares so high? And will prices ever return to Earth?

They're simple questions with complicated answers. But Jake Oakman, for one, would like to know. So would many holiday travelers.

Oakman, who works for...

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The Republicans Won -- But Have Travelers Lost?

(1) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 10:39 AM

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Have the bad guys won? It sure looks that way.

The Republicans took over control of the US Senate in yesterday's midterm elections. Now I'm not saying Republicans are the bad guys, but observers believe their victory practically guarantees the passage of a...

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Frequent-Flier Programs: Ready for Regulation?

(2) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 8:50 AM

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Frequent-flier programs are rigged to favor airlines, deceive passengers and cost consumers billions of dollars. At least that's the contention of one Florida frequent traveler named Alan Grayson.

But it just so happens that Grayson is a member of Congress. And as such,...

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Are Cruise Lines Doing Enough to Protect You?

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

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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

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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 TrueCar.com, a...

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This 'Minor' Airline Fee Is A Major Hassle

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

We're...

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Will Proposed Airline Rules Really Help Passengers?

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

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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

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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

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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 TripAdvisor.com, she stumbled upon a $177 airfare.

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

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