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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.

Delta Makes an Industry Shaking Change

by Lux Joseph 7. March 2014

Just recently Delta has made a public announcement in regards to their frequent flier program and the major changes travelers can expect to see in effect one year from now. For years since Delta’s SkyMiles Program was put into place, travelers would earn miles based on the miles flown. For example, if you were traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles the basic traveler on the bottom tier currently earns approximately 2,343 miles. However, if you were just going from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta you currently only earn 581 miles. This wouldn’t matter if you paid $382 for your ticket or a full fare of $1012.00. The current program is beneficial to that frequent traveler that scores low fare tickets, but with the release of the new program that will not be the case. 

The new Delta SkyMiles program was unveiled to consumers on February 26 and the buzz is definitely out there. If you look at the demographics of travelers, it is very mixed. There are some travelers who travel frequently on the lowest fares available. There are other travelers who travel with a mix of class (economy and business) and mixed fares. Then you have your elite customers who travel primarily business class and on higher fare tickets. With the current program, that elite customer could travel round trip business class from Miami to Paris and earn approximately 13,000 frequent flier miles on Delta. If you are familiar with the Delta SkyMiles redemption program, that isn’t even enough miles for the lowest award ticket in coach. With the implementation of the new program, this same traveler will earn more than 50,000 frequent flier miles on Delta.

At Commercial Medical Escorts, most of our repatriations and medical escort transfers are completed within 24-72 hours of a request. In terms of air travel we probably purchase some of the last seats available on each flight. Typically those last minute ticket prices are significantly higher than if a traveler purchased their ticket 14 days in advance. For our medical escorts, this program change could mean a significant increase in the number of miles they earn each year when traveling on Delta. But what is the response going to be from the other major airline carriers within the United States and also internationally? This is an industry shaking change that could definitely impact not only the travelers, but the other airlines. Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America currently already award frequent flier points based on the fare paid by the customer. However, if you look at the three carriers just mentioned, none of them compare to the size and volume that Delta has.

From a management and on the financial side it is important for Delta to keep their customers who are high value travelers in the SkyMiles program. Those travelers are most profitable and loyal to Delta. One way the frequent flier program works is that the airlines sell their miles to credit card companies for bonus sign ups and therefore the program is a cash generating system. The new Skymiles program will not affect the credit card customers and that is a huge target market for the new Delta program. Vinay Bhaskara of Forbes recently commented that, “If Delta can keep high value travelers in the program, the net impact on profitability will be huge (small reduction in costs, more credit card earnings because the credit cards are more attractive)” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/airchive/2014/03/05/delta-skymiles/).

The average traveler based on reviews, comments, surveys, and other tools to measure satisfaction doesn’t seem pleased with the direction Delta is going. However, as the year progresses I believe we will be seeing American Airlines and United exploring similar modifications to their loyalty programs. Should other airlines remain with their current program in earning miles, it could potentially lead high value customers to fly Delta. Earning 50,000 miles as opposed to 13,000 for the same routing seems like decision should be apparent that the traveler will fly with Delta simply to earn an additional 37,000 miles. This industry shaking change will prompt other global competitors to re-evaluate their program and either match it or risk losing premium customers. As we enter into 2014, we look forward to keeping you updated on the progress on another major change in the airline industry.

Another Strike Hits Europe

by Lux Joseph 31. January 2014

European traveler’s flights have been affected once again. Another strike has been initiated amid air traffic controllers. This disruption is creating chaos amongst flights going in/out of Europe. As you may have read in one of my earlier posts, a strike within the travel industry has a major impact on travelers and this can sometimes last for several days. There is no real way to predict whether or not your flight will be affected. Some end of being cancelled while others may be delayed for several hours. But what is this one really about?

The unions are not happy with the direction things are going in regards to cost cuts and reforms. This has been the story that has unfolded the past two days. While the European Commission is looking into implementing a more efficient way of flying, known to many as the Single European Sky project, the air traffic controllers are doing whatever possible to halt this progress. While their intention maybe to just halt this particular project, it causes significant challenges to the carriers, travelers, and those within the industry. The European Commission says the benefits of the Sky Project will provide the following:

·         Reduced costs

·         Reduced airline delays

·         Triple the region’s airspace

While the union recognizes the benefits, they feel as though this project will compromise safety.

Commercial Medical Escorts hasn’t been affected with this strike, but it has affected a large number of flights within Europe. As the travel industry continues to evolve, travelers are going to see an increase in the number of flights throughout the world. For Europe in particular, studies have shown that the air traffic levels are going to double by 2020. Currently the European air traffic control manages approximately 26,000 flights daily. The commission recognized there was going to be a need in the future and this project was focused on addressing the increased volume and safety within the European Air Space.

So many businesses including Commercial Medical Escorts utilize commercial airlines for business. Business travel is necessary for many different industries in a multitude of different ways.  Whether individuals need to fly to visit a client, an employee is being re-located, or a recent merger between two companies. With the large volume of travel that happens, it is important to monitor your flight, check the status of prior to leaving the airport, and be prepared when traveling. CME will continue to closely monitor the strikes to reduce the possibility of it affecting our transports with patients. We monitor each and every flight from start to finish ensuring the most up to date information is available for our clients.

We recommend the following tips to be prepared should your flight be canceled, delayed, or affected in any way due to a strike or another unforeseen event:

1.       TRAVEL CLOTHES: Dress comfortably when traveling and always travel to the airport with a spare set of clothes in your carry-on.

2.       CALL YOUR TRAVEL AGENT: The moment you know your flight has been canceled, contact your travel agent. They can re-accommodate you a lot faster than waiting in the long line or holding for an agent on the 1800 number.

3.       FLEXIBLE: Flexibility with your travel plans is important. For many destinations there may be alternative airports within a short distance like Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia. Being flexible will open you to more opportunities for re-accommodation.

4.       PLAN AHEAD: Many airlines will allow you to change your itinerary without penalty if you are flying to, from, or through an airport that is expected to experience bad weather.

No one likes a strike that affects the travel industry, but until the European Commission and the unions come to some type of an agreement, it is likely that this will happen again in the near future. As a traveler, it is best that you be prepared if you are traveling to/from or within Europe. Commercial Medical Escorts in-house travel department monitors these situations and will keep our clients up to date on potential travel changes.


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