Welcome to the all-new Elliott — please fasten your seatbelts!

Vector Art/Shutterstock
Vector Art/Shutterstock
I have some really exciting news today. I’m joining USA Today as a travel columnist.

I’ll be writing the weekly “On Travel” feature, which will expose readers to thought-provoking insights into the world of airlines, car rentals, cruises and hotels. Since its redesign last fall, USA Today has cultivated lead “voices” for every section, and “On Travel” will be its travel voice.

Here’s my debut column.

I’ll continue to serve as the reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler and pen separate columns for Tribune Media Services, the Washington Post and Mint.com — and, of course, you can find me every day right here on this site.

But there’s more.
Read more “Welcome to the all-new Elliott — please fasten your seatbelts!”

USA Today story triggers battle of the airfare gurus

Can’t we all just get along?

Earlier this week, USA Today declared that some summer airfares had doubled, tripled — even quadrupled — with a sensationalistic headline that was worthy of this blog.

The nation’s newspaper called on “travel price guru” Tom Parsons of BestFares.com, who said the cheapest tickets available on many routes in July are “100 percent to 300 percent higher” than a year ago.

Then the competition pounced.

“I was so confused by the statements,” wrote the other travel price guru, Rick Seaney, on his blog. Then he proceeded to dismantle Parson’s numbers.

Article states, non-stop Detroit-Providence roundtrip travel in July is $595 — up 365% — not true — Northwest Airlines has the only non-stops (no competition) and Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, non-stop roundtrip 4-night trips in July are priced at $309 – $351 out-the-door (including the $21 in fees not mentioned on the noted fare). Departures Sun, Mon, Tue (non-stop 4 nights in July) are from $309-485 out-the-door.

Then the other travel price guru, Terry Trippler, joined in. This afternoon, he released a video that questioned Parson’s numbers. “The fares and facts just weren’t right,” he says, referring to Parsons only as “the source.”

“Just trying to keep them honest,” he adds.

What’s got their feathers all ruffled?

It could have something to do with the fact that USA Today remains the most credible source of airline news in the mainstream media. Being featured as the “travel price guru” means you’re the alpha wolf of air travel.

But I think it’s also true that there’s room for all three airfare experts, and probably a few more.

As an observer of the airline industry — but by no means an expert — I can’t believe USA Today (or any newspaper) would bother quoting airfares in an article when everyone knows prices change by the minute.

What they really need is a ticker to display the fare fluctuations in real time. And you can only do that online.