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Important Travel Documents

by Lux Joseph 19. July 2013

Each and every day new travel laws, restrictions, and requirements are established. These new rules and requirements may prohibit you from traveling to a certain area, or in our case, require you to have a visa prior to arrival. It is necessary to check with the embassy to receive the most up to date information about what is required for travel. Having all the proper legal documents prior to departing the United States is critical to ensure that you are a safe traveler. We recently submitted several visa applications for a particular country and this time had to submit new additional support documents. When we completed the process six months ago different information was required.  Staying current and up to date on country entry requirements isn’t the easiest task so we encourage you to use the tips below and consider utilizing a visa and passport processing agency.

Whenever you are thinking about traveling abroad to a country that may have travel restrictions it is advised that you visit the following website provided by the Department of State: http://travel.state.gov/. Here you will find travel alerts, travel warnings, visa requirements, travel tips, and even information regarding your passport. When you are at this website reviewing the visa requirements for your trip, it would be smart for you to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a program set up to assist US Citizens traveling abroad during a time of emergency.  It works both ways to assist you as the traveler and your family that is not traveling and staying home in the USA. If there is an emergency with your family or if there is a crisis in the area you are traveling, this assists the US Depart of State to be able to get in contact with you. As a traveler you should also have the primary contact information for consular services should you ever need their assistance. They can be reached at:

Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

Within the USA 1-888-407-4747

Outside the USA 202-501-4444

When traveling to Russia in 2012, all you needed to present to the embassy to confirm your hotel stay was your confirmation from either an online booking tool or your travel agent. Now those times have changed. As per the Russian Embassy: “Confirmation of the hotel reservation, a contract for provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist, and register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Federal Tourism Agency.” This may appear like a small change, but not adhering to the new requirement will have your visa rejected.

After enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and reviewing the updated information from the Department of State we would strongly suggest using a visa processing agency. There are several of these types of agencies available throughout the United States and you don’t need to visit them in person to have it completed. Some of the most frequently used agencies include:

A Briggs Passport & Visa Expeditors

Travel Document Systems, Inc

VisaHQ

Washington Express Visas

Our office has always used Travel Document Systems, Inc. Our preferred office is the one located in Washington, DC, but depending on where you are a resident may depend on the location in which you submit your visa application. For example when I was traveling to China for the Air Medical and Rescue China Congress, my application needed to be submitted to the Travel Document Systems located in Houston since I am a resident of Florida.

Having a team like the people at Travel Document Systems alleviates the stress and anxiety of putting together something that you are not familiar with. It would be similar if I were to try to build a house, when that is not my specialty. The individuals at Travel Document Systems work on passports and visas every single day. They are experts in this area and advocate for you at the embassy. One of our recent applications was sent in and the hotel voucher had made a mistake on the nurse’s date of birth. This is considered an error in the application and would have been rejected, but instead Travel Document Systems contacted us and walked us through the steps to get it corrected and over to the embassy so it wouldn’t delay the visa. That day at 5:00pm, the visa was issued.

We have nurses and physicians traveling the world each and every day with patients. It is important to ensure the not only are our patients safe and secure, but that our team members travel safely with all the proper documentation. CME operations team is always monitoring the commercial flights, reviewing travel advisories, and updating our information for entry requirements to countries. Next time you are traveling abroad and may need a visa or if it’s a new destination to you and your family, try some of these tips to enjoy your travel.

Handling Changes in your Travel Plans

by Lux Joseph 6. July 2013

Summer is already here and so is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Whether you are looking to go on a summer vacation to Europe or in our case, bringing patients home that fell ill during their vacation travels flights are selling quickly and at a high rate. According to the latest Travelhorizons survey of 2,300 U.S. adults conducted by marketing services firm MMGY Global 70% of Americans plan to take at least one leisure trip between now and October 2013, compared to 65% in March 2007.  During your travels this summer, you hope that everything goes as planned, flights are not delayed or canceled, a natural disaster doesn’t hit, and that no other disruption happens to affect your journey. But what happens when something does happen to affect your travel? What are your rights as a traveler?

Being stranded at the airport during a natural disaster or any other related disruption causes frustration to you as the traveler. It is important to recognize that your ticket as a traveler represents a contract between you and the airline. Although airlines do not guarantee their schedules due to the large amount of unexpected challenges that can occur including weather, mechanical problems, and air traffic control delays, as part of a contract they must make reasonable efforts to fulfill their end of the bargain. Many airlines will do their best to re-accommodate you as schedules and availability permit, but waiting in that long line may limit your chance at the next soonest flight available.

As a traveler you must take control of the situation in a professional and responsible manner. At CME, we deal with cancelations and delays every week when transporting our patients back home.  Some tips that we have in regards to delays/cancelations include:

• Monitor you flight continuously- a great application to be used on your smart phone is Flight Aware. There are two applications, and the paid application shows real time updates including the connection times as flights are delayed

• Be respectful to the agent- it is not the agent’s fault that your flight is delayed or canceled. Although they represent the airline, they are not the cause so do not take the frustration out on them. The more courteous and polite you are the more likely they will do their best to find an alternate flight to meet your needs.

• Contacting the airline- if you are already at the airport, most likely you are standing in the long line to rebook your ticket. While in line, also contact the airline via their 1-800 number. In most cases if you are able to get in contact with an agent on the phone, they can at least make the changes and confirm you on a new flight so all you will need to do is have your new tickets issued. If you booked your flight with a travel agent, they can hold you on the next available flight as well

• Endorsing your ticket- you have finally reached the counter and the airline informs you that you cannot be rebooked until 2 days later. For most travelers, this would not be acceptable or reasonable. You can ask your airline to endorse your ticket on another carrier. Do the research and look at available flights on alternate carriers. The airline is not required to endorse your ticket, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. When an airline endorses another carrier, they are paying the other carrier to transport you to your destination.

• Understand the Department of Transportation (DOT) Rules- many times you may think everything is going as planned. You boarded your flight, listened to the flight briefing, are pushing back form the gate, and then are told then you are held on the tarmac for an infinite period of time. It is important to understand the rules set forth by the DOT and what the airlines a required to provide. The DOT prohibits airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for more than 3 hours on domestic flights unless the pilot otherwise feels there is a safely or security issue in. The airline is also required to provide food and water within two hours of being on the tarmac.

• Know the airline policy- no federal laws or requirements are in place that require airlines to provide any accommodation or meals due to delayed or canceled flights. Each airline does have its own policy and it is important to understand the policy so you do not look ignorant trying to demand something that you are not entitled to.

Cancelations and delays will always be a possibility when flying. Airlines are trying each and every day to seek ways to improve the system, but in most cases there are things that are out of their control. Being aware of your environment, rights as a passenger, and keeping composure, as a traveler will ensure a smooth journey to your destination.

Delta Jumbo Jet encounters a near miss over New York

by Lux Joseph 21. June 2013

Everyone has heard the statistics regarding the safety of flying. It has become common sense to most of us that traveling to and from work in our cars everyday poses a greater threat to us than hoping on a flight to visit our relatives out of state. However, the threat was greater than anyone could have anticipated for the passengers aboard Delta’s 747 Jumbo Jet and a Shuttle America Embraer aircraft as they experienced a near collision while flying over NYC on Jun 13. 

As a Platinum Medallion holder with Delta, this story is particularly difficult for me to swallow, as more than 99% of my travels take place on a Delta flight. Although I am by no means afraid of flying, I think that everyone keeps the possibility of a crash in the back of his or her mind when flying. Though we brush off the fear and trust that we are in good hands, incidents such as the one that took place 8 days ago leave many of us with an unsettling feeling in the pit of our stomachs and many unanswered questions.

To everyone’s relief, both planes landed safely. Nevertheless, the close call was considerable enough to spark a federal investigation. The ‘Federal Aviation Administration’ revealed to CNN that “At their closest, the two planes were separated by about half a mile horizontally and about 200 feet vertically. They were required to have separation of three miles horizontally or 1,000 feet vertically.”

I think the most disturbing fact of all is that apparently, similar close encounters have occurred sporadically throughout the last couple of years and seem to be on the rise. With a trip to San Diego approaching fast, this story definitely has me thinking a lot more about the hands I place my life in every time I step onto an airplane. What I am most curious about is what takes place during these investigations? If discovered that someone is at fault, what then?

Had the parallel outcome occurred while both planes were at full capacity, there could have been more than 480 fatalities. In an industry that handles the lives of millions of people every day, there is no room for mistakes, even on the smallest scale. What is being done to prevent these incidents from happening in the future and what can we learn for these near-fatal mistakes? If the system airlines rely on is powered by communication, where is the miscommunication?

Though the industry is said to be the safest it has ever been; this is no time to relax. Much improvement is needed to guarantee the safety of all passengers and with scores of problems at hand; the race is far from over.

 

 

 

Source: www.cnn.com


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