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Cell Phone Usage In-Flight

by Lux Joseph 14. December 2013

Each and every day technology is evolving and improving as the tech world discovers new and improved ways to help us live our daily lives with the use of technology. Twenty years ago the form of communication was primarily US Mail, home telephones, and in some places, dial-up internet. Today consumers all around the world are communicating via cell phone, high speed internet, mobile hotspots, tablets, etc. to share their stories, build their companies, and build relationships. But how much of your time is spent on your cell phone instead of conversing with the person beside you? Are you able to spend two hours without access to making a phone call? Some consumers say yes while others say no. This topic was introduced after a recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission to consider lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use.

Technology will continue to improve and enhance as new things are discovered and as time goes on. For years travelers have been aware of the rules and stipulations of cell phone use during flight. As travelers board their departure flight they hurry to make that last minute phone call to a loved one, finish up a business proposal, or follow up on something they forgot before the announcement “At this time, we request that all mobile phones, pagers, radios and remote controlled toys be turned off for the full duration of the flight, as these items might interfere with the navigational and communication equipment on this aircraft.” Many travelers thought it was a way to reduce the number of distractions on the plane and reduce the nuisance to other passengers caused by someone talking on a mobile phone near them. With the recent news from the FCC that doesn’t appear to be the case, but it is the reason that many customers wish the FAA to ban in-flight calls. New technology has developed and cell phone calls in-flight no longer create an interference with cell towers on the ground. From a medical escort perspective, this would allow our nurses to have 24/7 contact with our operations center and medical director while in-flight. However, we must also recognize the anxieties and stressors of flight that exist for many patients and how having other passengers around a patient talking on the phone may add to this stress level.

With every decision there are positive and negative results for all parties involved. As I just mentioned, this new technology would allow our medical escorts to have access to our medical director and operations team 24/7, but if we look at the statistics of our transports this positive change may not be strong enough to outweigh the negative effects that this policy will create for our patients. According to the FCC website, the role of the Federal Communications Commission is: The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States' primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation” (www.fcc.gov). The vote that was made by the FCC was true to their responsibilities and role within our country, but it will still take months before they are able to lift the ban. After that it will be in the hands of the FAA who will make a decision as to how this vote will affect commercial airlines and whether it will be up to the airline to decide or become an established policy in which all carriers will need to abide by.

When we transport passengers, it is primarily always in business class or first class unless the medical recommendation from their physician states otherwise or if the patient is able to tolerate a flight in economy class due to the remote location in which they are going to. Many airports throughout the USA and around the world are small and limit the airplane size that can land. This limits the cabin possibilities among carriers and many times only economy class seating is available on the small aircraft. In economy class the passengers are confined to a small personal space. If you are lucky to be able to choose an aisle or window seat you may be able to sit more comfortably then if you are stuck in the middle and confined to Boeing’s standard seat width of 17.5”. Boeing has patented what they call the Personal Space Model, a formula that accounts for seat pitch, width, and similar quantifiable measurements, along with more subjective elements of passenger perception of space. But even their Personal Space Model isn’t going to help when you have a person on each side of you conversing in a telephone conversation throughout a flight. Most people when speaking on the phone are not always aware of their surroundings and how loud they sound to the peers around them. We foresee this being an issue should the FAA allow the cell-phone calls during flight. Many individuals have debated about the cost per minute in the sky being a factor to reduce the number of phone calls, but even when cost is a factor there are always consumers willing to pay.

As this story continues to develop and we see changes in the future, we will continue to follow the developments. Travel by air will always be changing in terms of equipment, technology, policies, and procedures. CME looks forward to these developments so that we can deliver our service at only the highest quality.

 

Impact on Today's Shooting at Los Angeles International Airport

by Lux Joseph 1. November 2013

Almost every individual that has traveled before will probably tell you that there is stress involved. Whether it is the beginning stages of planning a trip, packing, or the actual day of travel; stress finds its way to be part of the process. However, today’s recent events at Tom Bradley Los Angeles International Airport bring a level of stress and anxiety that no passenger wishes to face. An individual opened fire today in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles Airport. At this time the suspect is in custody, but what does this mean for the travel industry and how does it impact the safety system in place at airports around the world.

The motive behind the suspect is unknown at this time, but based on statements from travelers and the beginning stages of the investigation, TSA may a key reason.  A 23 year old, now identified as Paul Anthony Ciancia of Los Angeles is responsible for this elevated level of fear and anxiety, injured lives of innocent people, and the death of one TSA employee. The suspect was found with a note on him stating his disappointment in the government and that he had not intentions to harm innocent individuals. Whenever you travel, there are always travelers complaining about the security process, TSA’s procedures and policies, and the tedious requests that are made of travelers by TSA. Many people forget the reason that TSA was established and the purpose it serves our country.

TSA was developed shortly after the 911 attacks in 2001 and has played a role ever since to improve the safely of American transportation. Over the years the security of traveling within the USA has changed in efforts to create a safer place to travel to/from. TSA secures the nation’s airports and screens all commercial airline passengers and baggage. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that authorities stated the gunman would approach individuals in the terminal with the rifle pointing at them and ask if they were TSA. If they said no, he would move on without pulling the trigger. Once he reached the security checkpoint, it was open fire in which three TSA employees were shot and several more injured. As of right now there is one confirmed death. This particular individual was considered to be a behavior-detection officer. They are the ones that are looking for odd or unusual behavior among travelers to help identify terrorists. This one TSA officer "It's with a very, very sad heart that I inform you that one of our own has lost his life today," said David Cox, president of American Federation of Government Employees. "To our knowledge, he was the first (TSA officer) to die in the line of duty."

As this news was announced, CME identified its current transports and upcoming transports to determine if and how it would affect our patients we are bringing home safely. At the time we had one transport arriving into Los Angeles within 48 hours and another one connecting through. Although the incident wasn’t affecting our current or upcoming trips, it certainly affected many other travelers. Reports noted the following affected flight data:

• Over 118 flights en route to LAX were canceled or rerouted
• 135 flights scheduled to depart from LAX were canceled
• 127 flights were delayed at least fifteen minutes

The impact that a ten minute event can cause is shocking. Although the shooting only lasted approximately ten minutes, the effects on individuals will last for days. Even several hours later, people were still coming out from places in which they hid.

Ever since 2001, there has been a fear in flying for all passengers. Even before 2001, most people believed the risks of something happening when traveling by air was more likely than any other type of transportation. Incidents like the one that occurred today will once again give TSA and United States Government an opportunity to look at the safety processes in place and see how we can improve them in the future.  

Holiday Travel Trends

by Lux Joseph 25. October 2013

The holiday season is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is considered one of the busiest times to travel and that only means an increase in business at Commercial Medical Escorts. According to the US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year. CME’s business is focused around individuals who fall ill or injured while they are traveling around the world. It appears like this year will be no different than previous years in terms of business, but the airlines show ticket costs to be on the rise.

Airlines Reporting Corp (ARC) has reported that airline ticket prices have increased 9.4% from last year for flights to the US and Caribbean during Thanksgiving week. Sales for tickets at Christmas time have also increased 7.3%. It appears that each and every year costs are continuing to increase. These numbers only represent an increase in the base fare. That doesn’t take into consideration the fees and taxes that have increase over the year as well. These increased fares are representation of airline consolidation and decreased airline routes; two efforts made by airlines to reduce costs and be more effective players in the travel industry. Their goal is to fill the plane, and that is what they are doing. Years ago you would get onto the plane and once the boarding door closed you would have the opportunity to move around, stretch out, or be fortunate to have a row to yourself. Today that is rare. You are more likely to hear an announcement from the agent at the gate looking for volunteers to take an alternate flight because the current one is overbooked. When looking to purchase your travel arrangements it helps to do so early and do your research.

The holiday season is a critical time period for airlines to make up for lost revenue in the fall/winter.  Holidays are guaranteed travel because it is a time when families want to be close to relatives and friends. Choosing the right days for travel can present cost savings. For instance, in a recent study completed by CheapAir returning on Saturday as opposed to Sunday will yield a 10% savings. When it comes to moving patients during the holidays we are faced with very limited availability and high costs. Almost every year CME will have a request to move a patient on the Wednesday prior or Thanksgiving Day. As with most of our requests, they typically come in within 24-48 hours of an anticipated repatriation. As I am sure you can imagine, availability on the airlines is very limited and the tickets have a high price point. Being home for the holidays with your family is priceless and each year we look forward to being able to do the impossible to make that happen for those passengers requiring a medical escort.

 When traveling during Christmas and Thanksgiving it is a smart idea to make your travel arrangements in advance. Years ago booking at the last minute sometimes offered cost savings due to airlines wanting to fill their last seats available. Today that is no longer the case. Almost every flight is full and when the flights are full that typically means the fare is higher. Flexibility to change your flight is usually nonexistent and if you miss a connection it may mean spending the night in an airport. Booking your flight early will always be a positive choice.  Things to consider when booking your holiday travel include: 

·         Connections: Look at your connection times carefully. You should build sufficient time in for delays, weather, and getting to your connecting gate. The 40 minute connect

·         Be Early: It is important for you to arrive extra early at the airport during busy travel times. Busy travel times mean increased security lines, full parking lots, increased check in times, and additional luggage being checked. 

·         Airport Selection: Understanding the airport you are arriving into is critical. In Boca Raton, FL we have three airports to our disposal: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Looking into all airports can offer cost savings and during travel season smaller airports may be less hectic.

 

Commercial Medical Escorts is wishing you safe travels this upcoming holiday season. Should you fall ill or injured and need a medical escort to take you home, we will be readily available and hopefully can get you home to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.


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