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CBP to Add Additional Workforce

by Lux Joseph 14. April 2014

On every international mission that Commercial Medical Escorts (CME) does, our medical escorts interact with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On a daily basis over a million individuals enter the United States and each individual arriving at a port of entry to the USA is subject to inspection by a CBP officer. As you can imagine, each international flight has approximately 200-300 passengers on board and some of these flights arrive to a destination at the same time or within minutes.  The high volume of passengers arriving into port of entries around the USA, does not always align with the right number of CBP officers on staff to handle the demand of screening required. This shortage of appropriate staff can affect travelers significantly and ultimately cause major frustration for frequent travelers and those making a tight connection within the USA.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced it will be hiring 2,000 new officers in the near future. The project was made possible with Congress allocating $255 million to hire these officers. This increase in staff will significantly impact the CBP’s ability to meet the needs at 44 ports across 18 states in the United States of America. This increase in staff is a 10% growth for CBP, and hopefully the addition of new team members will help the department improve the travel and tourism industry. When Commercial Medical Escorts’ travel department looks for the best routing to transport a patient back home connection time is a key factor in consideration especially at hub airports. The cities that are expected to get an increase in CBP offices are Detroit; Buffalo N.Y., Houston; Los Angeles; New York; Dallas; New Orleans; Laredo, Texas; and Nogales, Ariz.

When any company or organization increases their workforce, looking at the areas of improvement is one of the first steps in ensuring the correct allocation of team members. For the U.S. Customs and Border Protection they are looking at delays in certain ports of entry and the time during the day in which it occurs. During our medical escort missions, some escorts have been delayed up to three hours awaiting CBP process screening. Imagine a delay like this and typically connection time is between 2-5 hours for international flights.  CME hopes to see that this increase in CBP officers will be allocated at current international airports that are struggling with handling the volume of travelers that are entering the USA on a given day.

We must understand that the 2,000 additional workforce will be divided between both airports and land ports of entry. Our travel department advised that although the CBP has not indicated how the force will be allocated, the travel industry is fighting for a significant amount to be positioned at airports, at least 1,000 at the gateway airports.

U.S. Travel has set a goal of having 80% of all arriving travelers screened within thirty minutes. Goals within every organization set a benchmark for achievement. This goal helps airports to staff accordingly to meet the metric based on their specific airport volume. The National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, University of South California evaluated that adding a single CBP Officer equates to annual benefits of:

  • $2 million increase in Gross Domestic Product
  • $640,000 saved in opportunity costs
  • 33 jobs added to the economy

It is common knowledge that the current number of CBP Officers is insufficient. Additional CBP Officers will reduce wait times and meet the needs of the travel industry. At Commercial Medical Escorts, we look forward to improvements to processes that improve our medical escort process. 

Delta Introduces More Amenities for International Economy Flights

by Lux Joseph 4. April 2014

Be unique, stand out, and deliver exceptional customer service. Each and every day businesses are looking at ways to differentiate themselves, to stand out, to be a product or service of desire by consumers. To be good at what you do, you must be constantly looking at ways to improve your product or service and to meet the needs of your clients and customers. If you sit back and become satisfied with the status quo or comfortable, you will miss an opportunity to excel. Once again, Delta is setting out to be the airline of choice when it comes to not only North America Travels, but also international destinations.

At Commercial Medical Escorts our patients are typically transferred home in business class or first class cabin. This allows the medical escort to provide the best medical care and attention, but also fit the needs of more injured patients especially those patients who have experienced a recent orthopedic surgery like a hip fracture. The upper class cabin amenities on international flights range among the different airlines, but most include amenities such as leather headrest, laptop power ports, a duvet for extra comfort, complimentary beverages, a seat that turns into a complete lie flat bed, and many more. For those seated in economy class on a long haul international flight, most travelers would say it is easier to describe the lack of amenities. Nevertheless, Delta is trying to change that stigma by recently adding Sleep Kits for international economy customers.

This new enhancement has been introduced on long haul international flights and includes an eyeshades and ear plugs for added comfort during travels. As spring is coming to a close, summer is just around the corner. Summer is a popular time for individuals traveling to/from Europe. On all trans-Atlantic flights of 3,850 miles or less from the US to Europe Delta will now be offering a full size bottled water following meal service and an updated meal offering for morning and afternoon arrivals. For those of you who enjoy ice cream, this service will also be offered on flights from Europe returning to the USA. This is only the beginning stages of the program, and we should look forward to expansion of this program on some of Delta’s other destinations.

Delta aims to have travelers arrive to their destination rested, entertained, and refreshed. This is just one step in that direction. Many times our medical escorts travel in economy class when going to pick up their patient. The rest time that our medical escorts receive prior to transport is important to the overall safety of the program. These added benefits are just another way that the travel industry to making travel enjoyable. Delta was named the 2014 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine, and it is obvious that their improvements are not going unnoticed by not only customers flying on Delta, but also critics from around the world.

Every industry has competition in some way, but it is how companies respond to that competition that will set their business apart from other companies. There are numerous airlines available to us as we arrange medical escort repatriations, but the amenities, services, cost and routings are what differentiate all of them. Working with a variety of airlines, we have learned the benefits of each airline and use that information to select the best flight for patient transports.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 still Looking for Answers

by Lux Joseph 28. March 2014

The statistics are that 1 in 1.2 million airplane flights involve an accident. Note that not all accidents are fatal. There is a 1 in 11 million chance that you will be killed in an airplane crash. However, 1 in 5,000 people die in a car crash. It appears as if the chances of losing your life when flying commercially are less likely than the chances of an individual dying in a car crash on their way to work. Nonetheless we still get in our car every morning and drive to work. For some reason the thought of a plane crash affects our nervous system much more than a car crash and especially after the recent news of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, more passengers are uneasy with traveling by commercial airline.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues to remain missing. Recent search efforts have been able to narrow its possible disappearance to the Indian Ocean, but the search for wreckage and the black box continues. Not a single piece of wreckage has been identified. The search area recently changed according to Australian government to a new area that is approximately 1,150 miles west of Perth. The search zone that they have been searching for over a week now was 1,550 miles southwest of Perth, but has been unsuccessful.  The shift in area is based on additional analysis that show the aircraft was most likely traveling at higher speeds and therefore would not have been able to cover as much distance as original proposed. Even three weeks after the flight has going missing, the search has a long way to go. Not even a small amount of debris has been detected to generate a lead in the right direction. Obviously, updated information such as the search area is a step forward, but for many observers it appears we are still a long way from finding closure.

With the new search area, 10 aircraft and 6 ships have been deployed and back to square one, and the time allotted on the black box pingers is slowly fading away. Black boxes have been in place on airplanes since the late 1950s. Each commercial airline has two of them in place: a flight data recorder and a voice recorder. Even though they are orange in color, making them easy to spot in water, the device only has enough battery power to transmit a signal for 30 days. Therefore as we enter into early April, time is running out. The estimated crash date was March 8 so we are looking at April 7 as the date in which they would expire.

As the search continues, the cost of the finding the missing Malaysia Airlines Plane increases and at this point government funds are being used. Prior to this incident, Malaysia Airlines was struggling financially and it may even require the government to step in to save the company. In 2011 when the Air France flight 447 went down, the search efforts cost ½ million dollars per day. Finding wreckage is just the beginning phases of an incident like this. If the wreckage is found, additional resources and funds will need to be employed for investigating and dissecting the wreckage to find more answers to the many questions that are lingering amongst the public and government officials.

The news and media have made numerous speculations regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but it is important to look at the facts. As with any major incident that occurs it is important that a plan is in place of how to respond to the situation in an orderly fashion to ensure accurate information is provided. They are been many reports in regards to the way in which the family members of the passengers on MH 370 were communicated with in regards to the incident. Communication with next of kin is critical in an incident like this one. Treating them with respect and dignity is the relationship that needs to be made with family members. On February 24, 2014 the U.S. Department of Transportation fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to comply with the Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997. It is important for any company to follow and abide by all local, state, and federal laws. At Commercial Medical Escorts we have a plan in place should an incident like this occur during any of our medical transports.


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