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Delta adds a Premium Service to Los Angeles Airport

by Lux Joseph 20. September 2013

Each and every day individuals are travelling to different destinations around the world. Some of these people are flying for the first time while others are seasoned travelers. As the economy has shifted airlines are trying different means to attract the traveler. When you visit your travel agent or go online to find a flight, there are several choices to choose from. Differences among the airlines include cost, connecting time, nonstop flights, total travel time, complimentary checked baggage, and even extra amenities. But what makes you choose Delta over United, American, US Airways or AirTran? Could it possibly be because Delta is offering a Porsche service to bring you to your connecting flight?

You are not imagining this at all. The next time you land or take off from Los Angeles International Airport take the opportunity to check out what is going on down on the tarmac. One of Delta’s special programs is available to some of Delta’s highest paying customers. Each day Delta chooses a select number of passengers to pick up on the tarmac upon arrival in a Cayenne or Panamera and escort them to their connecting flight. This service is extremely useful for those passengers making tight connections in LAX. It may appear as an added value for some of the elite travelers, but it is also a business venture between Delta and Porsche. This program allows Porsche to attract potential buyers by allowing them to experience the ride. For Delta, it presents a pleasant surprise to the travelers and adds that special touch of feeling like they belong.

In every industry it is important to set yourself apart from your competitors. United has a similar program available to their elite travelers in Houston. It is important to distinguish yourself as a company. With today’s economy, price drives a lot of business, but we also believe that a high quality service or product with top notch customer service is critical to the success of an operation. Los Angeles International Airport is not the first airport to offer this service for Delta. This service is also available at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Delta wants to be a major player in Los Angeles and the way for that to happen is to show that their product is not necessarily different, but the “one” to choose over another carrier. CME has had the opportunity to experience Delta’s new business elite service when transporting a patient from JFK to LAX. The lie flat seats offer a substantial cost savings to those patients that may have needed transportation via air ambulance due to the need to lie flat. Although none of the domestic based airlines over stretcher service, the routings that they are now beginning to add lie-flat seats are providing great alternatives when bringing patients home.

Traveling can be exhausting for even for the frequent traveler, but as airlines continue to add premium services, traveling becomes easier.  Many airlines around the world offer a complimentary door-to-door transfer for those passengers traveling in premium class. When Delta offers the Porsche service for their elite travelers, they are enhancing the ground experience. Any way a company is able to enhance their product or service will make them distinguishable amongst their competitors. As CME continues to grow and we receive feedback from our clients and patients, we are always looking at ways to provide only the highest quality of premium care and service.

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.

Tips for Travelers with Disabilities

by Lux Joseph 12. July 2013

Traveling with a disability may seem impossible. It may make you feel discouraged and at a loss due to the challenges you foresee getting around when going on a trip. This may have been the case several years, but times have changed and traveling with a disability has become easier. The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you. Cruises, airlines, restaurants, hotels, and even tour groups have implemented a variety of resources and tools to ensure that you travel comfortably and without hesitation. There are still areas around the world that are not set up completely, but accessibility for travelers with special needs has become a focus for the travel industry. Here are some tips when traveling with a disability:

 Traveling by Air

Going to visit your grandson in Florida, but hesitant about getting through the airport and boarding the plane? At Commercial Medical Escorts, our role is to assist those travelers with medical conditions and disabilities home via commercial airlines. Although each of our patients is traveling with a nurse, the airlines and airports have a variety of resources to assist those travelers traveling alone. TSA has a dedicated contact number for those travelers needing special assistance. They recommend that you call 72 hours prior to departure. This program is called: TSA Cares Helpline.  You can e-mail them at TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov or call toll free at 1-855-787-2227. This program is dedicated to providing individuals with disabilities an additional resource to ask questions regarding what to expect at security, screen policies, and can specifically address your individual concerns.

Once you know what to expect from TSA, working with the airlines to ensure you have the necessary accommodations in critical to smooth travels. If you are traveling and need the assistance of a wheelchair, understand that there are a variety of different wheelchairs available. The first step is to contact the airline or your travel agent and they will append it to the reservation.  The different types of wheelchair assistance include:

 WCHR - Wheel Chair to Ramp - passenger can ascend/descend steps and make own way to/from cabin seat, but requires wheelchair for distance to/from aircraft

WCHS - Wheel Chair to top of Steps - passenger is able to walk but unable to ascend or descend stairs

WCHC - Wheel Chair in Cabin - passenger is paraplegic/quadriplegic, requires an on-board wheelchair and must be carried to/from cabin seat

Once you arrive at the airport wheelchairs are available at the doors. A Skycap will take you through security all the way to the gate. When the aircraft is ready for boarding, the same person will come and take her down the jet way to the aircraft's door.  Since the airline knows there is need for a wheelchair, one will be waiting with a Skycap at the destination airport, right at the aircraft's door. This person will take you as far as baggage claim, and even assist in getting baggage from the carousel. 

If you are a passenger that uses oxygen at home to get around don’t think that you are unable to fly. FAA has approved several portable oxygen concentrators and they are the only medical oxygen devices approved for inflight travel. Depending on the airline there are different rules and regulations to inform the airline you will be using one. Be sure to contact the airline at least 72 hours prior to departure. Some of the common FAA approved portable oxygen concentrators include:

·         AirSep FreeStyle

·         AirSep LifeStyle

·         AirSep Focus

·         AirSep Freestyle 5

·         Delphi RS-00400 / Oxus RS-00400

·         DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo

·         Inogen One

·         Inogen One G2

·         lnogen One G3

·         lnova Labs LifeChoice Activox

·         International Biophysics LifeChoice / lnova Labs LifeChoice

·         Invacare XPO2

·         Invacare Solo 2

·         Oxylife Independence Oxygen Concentrator

·         Precision Medical EasyPulse

·         Respironics EverGo

·         Respironics SimplyGo

·         Sequal Eclipse

·         SeQual SAROS

Remember you are not alone at the airport and onboard the airplane. These resources are available to you so next time you are preparing to fly simply ask your travel agent or contact the airline to ensure you have all the necessary requirements.

 Traveling by Sea

Cruise vacations can be an excellent choice for travelers with disabilities as long as you have all the necessary special assistance services available. One of the biggest resources to those travelers going on cruises is the Special Needs Group, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.. The Special Needs Group has been recommended by the major cruise lines for several years. They support over 55 cities and ports, and over 20 countries around the world.

Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.

Outline your travel needs

 Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home? 

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides?  How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.  

 Plan Ahead

 If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms. 

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions.  Again, documentation and paperwork are required. 

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip.  Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.

Ask the Right Questions

When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room? 

Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?

Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?

Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort? 

On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters? 

Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.

The world around us is continuing to grow and develop. Having a disability should never hinder or stop you from traveling. The resources and support are available to you worldwide. It is critical that you use the tips outlined above to ensure your travel goes smoothly and free from aggravation.


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