I’m still waiting for a refund from Hotels.com

When Mike Foley cancels his resort reservation, Hotels.com promises him a refund. But more than a year later, his $1,400 is still missing. Read more “I’m still waiting for a refund from Hotels.com”

Don’t let them ignore your travel complaint. Here’s how.

It’s complaints season in the travel industry, as Adeodata Czink will tell you. Read more “Don’t let them ignore your travel complaint. Here’s how.”

What does “making it better for everyone” really mean?

It’s that time of year when everyone makes a resolution. Here’s ours.
Read more “What does “making it better for everyone” really mean?”

Here’s to new beginnings

Christopher Elliott at the German Clock Museum. Photo by Aren Elliott.
Christopher Elliott at the German Clock Museum. Photo by Aren Elliott.
I’ve published this site since 1997, which is half an eternity on the Internet.

You’ve seen features come and go, from my first foray into travel commentary — as ABCNews.com’s Crabby Traveler — to my adventures in mainstream media columnizing at The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.

If you’ve followed this site, you know that the only constant is change. But today’s changes are so significant that they merit their own story.
Read more “Here’s to new beginnings”

New Year’s resolutions: 12 things the TSA shouldn’t do in 2012

I‘ve noticed that our friends at the TSA haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions yet, at least not publicly, so as I thought I’d help the federal agency charged with the challenging task of protecting our transportation systems.

You know, as a public service.
Read more “New Year’s resolutions: 12 things the TSA shouldn’t do in 2012”

How to win the car rental claim game


Tim Carpenter thought he had done everything he could to avoid a frivolous damage claim on his rental minvan.

He took pictures of his vehicle before he picked it up and after he returned it. He noted every pre-existing scratch and dent in the paperwork.

But he thought wrong.

An Alamo representative at Orlando International Airport informed him that “none of that mattered” when he brought the minivan back and that his vehicle, which had a small scratch on the rear bumper, would be processed by the company’s claims department.
Read more “How to win the car rental claim game”

My car rental rate doubled — should I split the difference with Hotwire?

When it comes to fixing travel problems, every happy ending isn’t necessarily a Hollywood ending. Consider the case of Samantha McCormick, a 23-year-old Hotwire customer whose car rental rate unexpectedly doubled.

McCormick turned to me to fix the problem, but now she’s at a crossroads and needs your help. I’ll get to the proposed resolution in a second. But first, a few words about compromises, and, of course, the details of her story.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are varying degrees of happy endings. A company will sometimes admit partial liability and offer to meet you halfway on compensation. These can be some of the hardest cases to wrap up, because no one likes a partial victory.

Often, travelers will walk away from a perfectly adequate settlement agreement on principle.

Is that what McCormick is about to do?
Read more “My car rental rate doubled — should I split the difference with Hotwire?”

The Olympian task of going head-to-head with travel businesses

When Judy Galliher of Silver Spring sent me her hotel horror story, I had a reflexive, Scrappy Doo-like reaction: Lemme at ’em!

My rescue complex is the natural result of a career spent solving travel troubles. And Galliher’s problem was a doozy. She’d reserved a motel in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, but her booking had been canceled twice — once because of an “error” and then a few months later because the property lost its franchise contract.

Suddenly she had no place to stay during the Games.
Read more “The Olympian task of going head-to-head with travel businesses”