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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

Read This Before You Visit Greece

(2) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 1:23 PM


With Greece teetering on the brink of a financial collapse, Monte Mathews decided to postpone his August trip to Athens. Eugene Emmer didn't.

Their different responses to the unfolding economic drama underscore the strong ambivalence Americans feel about the Greek crisis. They're hopeful...

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Are Mandatory Resort Fees Here to Stay?

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 9:07 AM

The Fourth of July fireworks came a little early this year for participants in the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection meeting at the Department of Transportation headquarters.

For several tension-filled minutes, two Federal Trade Commission lawyers stood before the committee last month, insisting their agency had done all it...

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Has Congress Failed Air Travelers?

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2015 | 2:11 PM


What has Washington done for airline passengers lately?

That's the question prompted by two recent political scandals that have touched the tourism world. But the answer -- or the lack of an answer -- may be far more troubling than the alleged misconduct.

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"No" Doesn't Have to Be the Final Answer When You're on the Road

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 12:52 PM


If you're thinking of taking "no" for an answer from a travel company, let Alan Schroeder talk you out of it.

When a late spring storm forced the cancellation of his return flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to New York on Spirit Airlines,...

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What to Do When Your Vacation Rental Gets a Better Offer

(1) Comments | Posted May 31, 2015 | 5:58 PM


Barry Shiller's vacation rental owner got a better offer just before he checked in. And suddenly, his family had no place to stay for their theme park vacation this spring.

He'd booked a house in Orlando through, a vacation rental Web...

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You'll Have Reservations About Your Reservations When You See This

(49) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 5:25 PM

When it comes to booking a hotel online, what you see isn't always what you get.

Christina Daves knows. On several occasions, she's shopped for a hotel room online and then clicked through to make a reservation, only to discover she was actually dealing with a third-party site that looked...

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Read This Before You Take Pictures on a Plane

(161) Comments | Posted May 17, 2015 | 11:32 AM


Next time you're tempted to take a snapshot of an interesting cloud formation or your seatmate sprawling into your personal space on a plane, remember Arash Shirazi and Steven Leslie.

Both of them are law-abiding citizens and air travelers. And both recently ran...

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As You Grieve, Their Motto Is 'Your Loss'

(1) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 8:47 PM


Marlene Eckert was looking forward to a spring river cruise in southern France, which included planned ports of call in scenic Lyon, Beaujolais, Arles and Avignon, along with an extension to Nice. But in January, her husband suffered a massive heart attack and...

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Travelers Go Beyond Voluntourism

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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