Elliott’s E-Mail/February 26, 2008

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In this issue …

Forbidden travels
Banned for life for being too pretty
Wrong name on my airline ticket — now what?
Traveling in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba
Are travel agents worth the extra money?
Don’t go there
How to reach yours truly
Support this site

This issue of Elliott’s E-Mail is 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.

FIRST | Random thoughts about the week in travel

Forbidden travels. Area 51. Havana. The forward lavatories. All are forbidden places people want to visit. And some of them are revealed to you in this issue of Elliott’s E-Mail. There’s also a new videocast, lots of blog posts, articles and archived stories about other places that are off-limits to you.

Burning question … near misses! Ever had a close call while you’re on vacation? The travel industry has near-misses all the time, whether it’s a TSA agent not spotting an explosive or a jet clipping another one on the runway (or worse). This week, I want your stories of near-misses, and your insights into whether the travel industry’s near-misses are — or aren’t — dangerous for the traveling public. Send me a note and please don’t forget to include your full name, city and occupation.

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

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

Banned for life for being too pretty — Is there such a thing as too gorgeous to fly? That’s the strange but true claim of two 18-year-olds from Oldsmar, Fla., who were escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight in Los Angeles recently. I’m not making this up. You can read the full story here and watch it here. JOIN THE DISCUSSION — leave your comment!

Related story:   What's new on Elliott: Bad Spirit, outfoxing your car rental company, and dead passengers get refunds

Ask the Armchair Traveler | This week’s videocast

Ask the Armchair Traveler: wrong name on my airline ticket — now what? — The Armchair Traveler shows you how to fix a ticket when you’ve got the wrong name on it. Yes, there is hope. Here’s a high-resolution version.

SIGHTINGS | Noted Elliott appearances online and offline

No refunds for the dead — Robert Maddocks and his wife plan a 50th-anniversary trip to Europe. But they have to postpone the vacation and then, shortly after Maddocks rebooks the tickets, his wife dies unexpectedly. Now United has sent him two certificates for the trip — vouchers he’ll never be able to use. Don’t the circumstances warrant a refund? (From The Troubleshooter)

That’s sick! 8 ways to avoid the bug — It’s virus season, and that means you’ll probably be enduring a lot more stories like these. (From MSNBC.com)

Traveling in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba — Don’t pack your bags for Havana just yet. Fidel Castro may have announced his resignation, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be touring the Plaza de la Catedral, strolling along Varadero Beach or diving on Isla de la Juventud any time soon. (From MSNBC.com)

Elliott’s E-Mail is also underwritten by skoobadesign.com, designers and makers of some of the most acclaimed, innovative carrying cases and travel accessories for laptop computers and other tech gear. Skooba Design’s products have been named “best buy” by major independent consumer magazines, 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 enter ELLIOTT20 at checkout. Some restrictions apply. Here are the details.

Related story:   Elliott's E-Mail/January 7, 2009

BLOGGED | New posts on Elliott’s Blog

Are travel agents worth the extra money? — Hardly a week goes by that I don’t recommend the services of a competent travel agent in one of my columns. And the conventional wisdom — which is that a real travel agent can make your trip better — has gone unchallenged for years, if not by me then by my readers. Until last week. (From Elliott Blog)

Are car rental companies overbilling customers for toll violations? — This should come as absolutely no surprise. The fee-happy car rental industry has apparently figured out a way of profiting from customers who blow through an electronic tool booth without paying. (From Elliott Blog)

Is the Delta-Northwest merger doomed? — It’s Thursday, and there’s still no announcement that Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines will merge. Frustrating for shareholders and airline beat reporters? Yes. But a Godsend for air travelers, who would almost certainly benefit from a more competitive airline industry. (From Elliott Blog)

Starwood devalues award points in a “pretty sneaky” way — Why cut your frequent flier program and face public humiliation, as US Airways did last week, when you can quietly chip away the value of your awards in relative private? That’s what Starwood Hotels, which owns the Four Points, Sheraton and W brands, must have been thinking when they announced changes to their rewards program yesterday. (From Elliott Blog) HOT POST!

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

Don’t go there. What not to do on your next vacation.

Thrills for sale: deadly adventures — Dog sledding in Alaska. Off-roading in Baja. Running with the bulls in Pamplona. Marc Madnick has done it all, and that’s just for starters. Next year, the 34-year-old father of two is heading to Morocco to cross the desert. “I’m also planning to go shark-cage diving in South Africa soon,” he says. (From The Travel Critic)

Related story:   New on Elliott: Stupid customer mistakes, a hard line on refunds and the adventure begins - Sponsored by TripInsurance.com

Forbidden adventures beckon travelers — When you think of destinations that are off-limits, places like Beijing’s Forbidden City, Cuba or even Roswell, N.M., probably come to mind. Not Stockerau, Austria. But take a Web site and a few wired expatriates with a taste for adventure, and anything can happen. (From Destinations)

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.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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