Should you play the loyalty game? – Sponsored by

This is the time of year for the legendary “mileage runs” — the fabled flights to nowhere that elite-level frequent fliers take in order to retain their status. But in my latest National Geographic Traveler column, I wonder if the game is worth playing at all.

I devote an entire chapter in my book, Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, to loyalty programs. If you want to read more about the hazards of point collecting, you absolutely have to pick up your very own copy.

By the way, Scammed arrives in stores today! Be sure to ask for it at your favorite bookstore. (And please consider supporting your local bookstore, which is a vital part of every enlightened community.)

I want to give a big shout-out to my friends at Luggage Pros, which offers all the name-brand luggage you need for your next trip, plus an exclusive 115 percent low price guarantee and free returns on all products. Luggage Pros is one of the underwriters that funds the consumer advocacy you read here. If you’re looking for great luggage, I hope you’ll visit Luggage Pros.

There’s much more …

• You’ve probably heard about the TSA’s cupcake incident. Now read the rest of the story, including the incidents the other TSA beat reporters overlooked, and what it means to air travelers. You can also read it over at the TSA News Blog.

• If you’ve thought that luggage fees were a scam, you’ll want to read today’s story about Air Berlin. Did they offer this customer, whose luggage was also delayed by almost a month, enough compensation?

Related story:   July 18, 2007

• Plus, tell me if I should mediate the case of a cruise passenger who says he was smoked out of his suite on a recent vacation. Should cruise lines be responsible for letting secondhand smoke into a room, and if so, what should they do?

Everyone likes to think of the week between Christmas and New Years Day as being slow, but not for me. A lot of you are out traveling, and I’m here for you. Thank you for being there for me in 2011.

(Photo: Macha dox/Flickr)

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 Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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