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CME Offers Advice to Help Keep Summer Travelers Cool

by Lux Joseph 21. June 2015

Recent headlines are full of reports predicting that this summer will be a record-breaker when it comes to airline passengers being bumped from their flights. For many, the prospect of being bumped is frustrating at best, and for those who are unaware of their rights, the results can be maddening, not to mention costly. Add to that ever-changing security rules and new passport requirements and summer travel can seem daunting. With this in mind, CME has prepared a list of tips to help summer travelers stay calm, cool and collected.

Airline Bumping: What You Need to Know

To avoid being bumped:

    Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released.


    Check-in online. If you do not have an advance seat assignment, or you want to change your seat assignment, check-in online. Most airlines allow you to do so within 24 hours of departure. Seat assignments that were not available at the time of ticketing may be available when checking in online.


    Don't be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early. Some airlines reserve a portion of their seat assignment inventory for airport check-in. If you are denied a seat assignment at check-in, put your name on the "standby" seat assignment list.


If you are bumped or wish to take advantage of airline's request that you give up your seat:

    Know the lingo. Voluntary bumping occurs when a passenger with a confirmed seat assignment agrees to give up his seat for negotiated compensation. It is not regulated by the DOT. Involuntary bumping occurs when an airline forcibly bumps a paid passenger from a flight because it has been oversold. The DOT regulates compensation for involuntary bumping.


    Know what questions to ask. If you volunteer to give up your seat in response to an airline offer of a free ticket, it is important passengers ask about restrictions. Ask about expiration and blackout dates, such as holidays.


    Know your rights. If you are involuntarily denied boarding, and substitute transportation is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to your one-way fare to your final destination, with a $200 maximum. If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (twice the cost of your fare, $400 maximum).


Navigating Security

    Remember 3-1-1. New regulations limit the amount of liquids passengers can take through security in their carry-on luggage to travel-size toiletries of three (3) ounces or less that fit comfortably in one (1) quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag and the one (1) bag per passenger must be placed in the screening bin. Items purchased after clearing security may be brought on-board. (Visit TravelSense.org to learn about restrictions in Canada, the U.K. and the European Union.)


Traveling Internationally?

    Better get a passport. Effective Jan. 1, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires a passport or other accepted document for all air travel from within the Western Hemisphere for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory (Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) do not need to present a passport.


    Plan (way) ahead. The U.S. State Department's Passport Services unit is experiencing a major backlog in processing applications. Rather than taking four to six weeks, routine applications or renewals are now taking 12 weeks. Even expedited service takes about three to four weeks. And, because the service uses a centralized system, travelers cannot get their documents faster by submitting applications directly to a regional processing facility.

At CME, our nurses and physicians experience many of these travel challengers on a daily basis when traveling. CAMTS requires all of our medical staff to have travel insurance and we also encourage all travelers to have it. Depending on the type of policy you have, you may be entitled to a variety of benefits when situations such as those described above. Safe travels this summer!

Top 20 Strangest Requests Made to Travel Agents

by Lux Joseph 13. May 2015

In celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week (May 2-10) and Travel Agent Day (May 6), Commercial Medical Escorts is shining a spotlight on the work dedicated professional travel advisors do by releasing the “Top 20 Strangest Requests” made of indviduals in the past year. Our in-house travel department, Sky Cap Corp, witnesses many of these requests and many more on a daily basis.

“When planning your trip, travel agents know what consumers often don’t know to ask,” said Joseph McNamara, Sky Cap Corp CEO. “But according to a poll done by ASTA professionals, agents also sometimes have to save their clients from questions they DO ask. It’s clear from the list of “strangest requests” that some travelers need a little more hand holding than others,” he said.
  
“There are 429 million vacation days left on the table every year by American workers. When they finally get around to taking a vacation, consumers don’t have time for a do-over. Put that planning in the hands of a professional. You’ll be glad you did,” said Joseph.

The following are the Top 20 Strangest Requests made of an ASTA professional in the past year in no particular order:

1.    Can you please book the honeymoon suite for us and another couple?
2.    Can you please plan a honeymoon for me, my bride and my mother?
3.    Can you guarantee that no pet has ever been in the hotel room?
4.    Can I fish off of the cruise ship?
5.    Do they speak English in Britain? 
6.    Can you book two rooms in different parts of the resort—one for me and my wife, and the other for my girlfriend?
7.    Is our relationship like a client/lawyer relationship? (ASTA wonders if this is the same client who asked Question 6). 
8.    Does the crew actually sleep onboard the cruise ship?
9.    Don’t tell my fiancé this is where I took my first wife for our honeymoon.
10.    I would like to go somewhere where there are NOT a lot of men.
11.    I’d like to meet Elvis.
12.    I’d like to get married in the Caribbean on an island where the marriage is not legal in the U.S. (Again, we refer you to Question 6).
13.    Will there be shadows on my face at 4 p.m. when the pictures are taken?
14.    Will you watch my pet while I’m away?
15.    Are there toll roads on the way to Hawaii?
16.    How can I get to Europe without going by air or sea?
17.    I’d like to visit Scotland and Denmark on the same trip. (Agent then tells client he does not have time in his schedule to travel the distance). But they’re only an inch apart on the map!
18.    Can you set it up so that the whales jump in the background at the same time I’m proposing to my girlfriend?
19.    Can you ask the airline to block the seat next to me so I can stretch out?
20.    I don’t want a window seat on the plane because I just had my hair done.

Orlando Hits Record High in Tourism Again

by Lux Joseph 26. April 2015

Orlando is practically in the back yard of Commercial Medical Escorts, just under three hours away from our company headquarters. The U.S. has its own charms and hot spots to visit but there are two places that tourist seem to be very fond of. Both New York and Orlando happen to bring in the largest amount of tourist out of the many other places in the United States, but only one can reign supreme. So which city is it that tourist are picking as their “to go” place? As it turns out, Orland happens to be on top of the hierarchy when it comes to being the center of tourism here in the U.S.

According to Visit Orlando, a whopping 62 million tourist visited the Florida city during 2014 in hopes of having a good time, which, according to Orlando Sentinel, is “That is more people than the populations of Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, and Delaware, combined”.  Although this isn’t too much of a surprise, as Orlando did open up a few more attractions, including Universal Orlando’s diagon alley, from the Harry Potter series, for those of you who are unfamiliar.  

George Aguel, the President and CEO of Visit Orlando, said “This historic milestone is the latest testament to Orlando’s leadership in tourism.” He continued to say “It’s a tribute to the steadfast commitment and continued investment by our tourism community, the special brand of service that greets our visitors and the global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Orlando has broken this record. In 2013, the record was broken with an astonishing 59 million people, and again New York coming in second place. More so, Orlando was able to break another record in 2014. Apparently, they were able to sell 32 million room nights, which amounted to over 200 million, the largest that the Orange County has ever seen. Mayor Teresa Jacobs commented “The impact of tourism on our community is remarkable and, in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact for our region...”

Although New York did have something to say in response to the victory. Chris Heywood, an official at NYC & Co., said “We congratulate them on those numbers,” It seemed like a friendly enough thing to say, but he continued to say “We're thrilled to be the number one destination for international visitation. That is a market that stays longer and spends more money.” This just happens to be the case. New York, while not the top when it comes to general tourism, leaps bounds over everywhere else when it comes to international tourist, leading with a 12.2 million people, and Orlando only having half that amount.

Even so, it is a great achievement to be the leading in the total amount of tourism coming into a place. If anything, it might be a good idea to start planning a trip, just to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/officials-orlando-top-us-tourist-destination-2014-30174715

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2015/04/orlando-becomes-first-destination-to-surpass-60m.html

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/tourism-central-florida-blog/os-orlando-visitation-record-2014-20150409-post.html

http://www.travelweekly.com/North-America-Travel/Orlando-breaks-visitor-record

http://www.ibtimes.com/orlando-surpasses-new-york-most-visited-us-city-1574621 


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