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Summer Travel Tips

by Lux Joseph 21. June 2014

With the 4th of July holiday weekend in the near future–and the start of the summer holiday travel season–rapidly approaching, Commercial Medical Escorts offers advice for travelers heading into the busy summer travel season.

 

At CME we encourage you to work with a professional travel consultant to plan your next trip, be it a grand tour of Asia or a long weekend. A professional travel consultant like the one we use can save you both time and money. Sky Cap Corp, our in-house travel management states, “Travel consultants are committed to making their clients’ trip the best travel experience possible. So while the summer travel season is always a busy one, this year if you work with a travel consultant to plan your summer vacations, it doesn’t have to be a frustrating one.”   

 

As part of Commercial Medical Escorts ongoing commitment to provide clients and travelers with useful travel tips, below are recommendations from its consumer Web site, TravelSense.org, to take the hassle out of summer travel:

 

Car Travel Tips 

  • Plan itineraries and arrange accommodations well in advance. Reservations for hotels, restaurants and rental cars get booked quickly during peak travel times. Your travel agent can help you get the lowest rate and make sure your rental car has room for your family, luggage and whatever souvenirs you bring home.
  • Get a tune up. Before any long-distance drive, make sure to have your oil changed and your brakes, fluids and tire pressure checked. The slightest deficiency in air pressure significantly reduces your car’s gas mileage
  • Get an early start to avoid holiday gridlock. Traveling during late night/early morning hours helps. The worst times to travel are after meals since most travelers postpone leaving until they’ve eaten with their families.
  • Choose public transportation. Many U.S. cities now offer public transportation. Chances are, if you are visiting a city this summer, it will be your fastest and most convenient bet for getting around your destination quickly and at low cost. Plus, it’s a positive step for the environment. Ask your travel agent about transportation options available at your destination.
  • Buckle up. Make sure all children weighing less than 80 lbs. are properly restrained in child safety seats at all times. Child seats should be placed in the back seat, and never in front of an airbag. If possible, get a qualified person to check whether your car seat has been properly installed–in many areas local police and trained nurses will check it for free.
  • Don’t forget Fido. Those who are traveling with pets should contact their local agent for pet-friendly hotels along the way. Pet owners should also be reminded never to leave pets waiting in parked cars– temperatures can soar quickly during the sizzling summer months.

 

Air Travel Tips:

  • Book your ticket ASAP. If you must book last minute, remember the key to securing the best deal is flexibility in travel dates–ask your travel agent to check into fares or consider flying into an alternate airport and renting a car. At CME, we are constantly booking last minute tickets due to the nature of our business, but having a dedicated travel team saves our clients a significant amount of money. If your holiday vacation includes international travel, make sure you have appropriate travel documents.  Travel agents can advise you on the new rules.
  • Arrive early. Difficult airport parking, long lines at security checkpoints and the possibility of the airline overselling the flight and bumping passengers, should all be considered when deciding what time to arrive at the airport. Give yourself plenty of extra time. Need some incentive? Keep in mind that those who arrive earliest for an overbooked flight stand the greatest chance of staying onboard.
  • Keep a close eye on all your belongings. Just as airports are extremely crowded during the peak period with travelers, they can also be fraught with thieves working the airports. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain a close watch over tickets, wallets, purses, and other belongings at all times.
  • Avoid getting bumped. 1) Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released. 2) 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. 3) Don’t be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early.
  • Remember 3-1-1. Regulations limit the amount of gels and 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.
  • Know your limits. Pack light and know baggage limits. You cannot carry sports equipment that could be used as a weapon, such as golf clubs and baseball bats. All electronic items are subject to additional screening. Be prepared to remove your laptop from its travel case to be X-rayed separately.

 

At Commercial Medical Escorts, safety is a top priority for our medical escorts and our patients. Providing travel tips and tips surrounding our industry is important to us and we hope that you are able to use this information when traveling this upcoming summer season.

 

Beware of Travel Scams

by Lux Joseph 13. June 2014

Did you really win the luxury free vacation in the Caribbean? We all enjoy time off from work where we can sunbath, go sight seeing, and enjoy the natural wonders of the world, but you don’t want to be subject to a travel scam. Travel scams happen all over the world and it is important for you to be able to recognize them. Our nurses and physicians travel on a daily basis to different countries around the world and safety is our top priority not only for the patient, but also for the escort. At Commercial Medical Escorts we ensure that hotels and ground transportation are prepaid for, but there has definitely been times in which the drivers have informed the escort that it had not been paid for. This could simply be a miscommunication between the dispatch and the driver, or it could be a completely different company trying to gain additional cash. At CME we encourage you to be aware of the travel scams out there so that you do not become a victim of one.

 Some of these offers below sound intriguing, a deal of a lifetime, or the best bargain for a vacation, but typically it means a scam is brewing.

·      Free vacations often come with the stipulation that a second must be purchased at “regular price,” which is usually two to three times more than it would cost to purchase the ticket through a travel agent.

·      Lodging certificates may also require users to purchase a second ticket at an inflated rate. Moreover, this “free” stay probably comes with a long list of limitations and exclusions and may even require attendance at timeshare presentations.

·      So-called “free” airline certificates are often not really free. They require you to purchase hotel accommodations at inflated prices. Be sure to read the fine print for limitations, exclusions and refund restrictions. Some certificates might require attendance at a timeshare or real estate sales presentation.

·      Some Spring Break companies don’t use a formal contract, which further complicates matters. Tour company brochures often double as contracts and as a result, when students sign up for more information, they might be unwittingly signing a contract.     

·      Beware of travel offers extended by postcard, telemarketer or newspaper invitation.

·      Paying for travel in advance can be risky for customers who wait too long, or the company could very well go out business. Use a trusted travel agent or a well-known travel resource when making arrangements. Ask them for their credentials and business history to ensure they didn’t just start up yesterday.

·      Buyers should also be wary of paying for accommodations they’ve never seen or heard of being stuck in a poor quality motel in an inconvenient location is no bargain.

·      Education is the key to avoiding travel scams.  Know the vocabulary scam artists frequently use and book through a professional travel agent.

·      Avoid telemarketers. They have no further responsibility to consumers after the sale has been finalized.

·      Be wary of firms asking consumers to send payment by overnight delivery. It’s more difficult to detect fraud through mail correspondence. It is best to use a credit card when making these purchases.

·      Companies offer to make people instant travel agent, so they can receive the discounts offered to certified agents. But only suppliers such as airlines, car rental companies, hotels or cruises have the authority to offer discounts.

·      “You have been specially selected to receive our spectacular vacation offer” translates to “You have been offered an opportunity to pay for a trip that fits OUR definition of luxury, whatever that might be.”

·      “Blackout periods” are also common to the fine print. These are blocks of dates, usually during peak travel times and holidays, during which time discount rates do not apply.

·      “Subject to availability” means consumers could be denied the accommodations and times they requested.    

·      Be skeptical of ads that have large pictures without much text. Also, watch for trips that guarantee your dream vacation for seemingly impossible rates.

·      Prepaid timeshares, campgrounds or travel clubs are risky investments because membership and maintenance fees can increase, the company can go bankrupt and timeshares are difficult to resell and rarely appreciate in value.

·      Don’t be pressured into accepting limited time offers--choosing a vacation is a big decision and legitimate deals won’t expire after a night’s sleep. When in doubt, always say no.

·      Never give your credit card number or bank information over the phone, not even for so-called verification purposes. Only disclose this private information to trusted businesses you’ve used in the past and trust.  

·      Senior citizens should be especially cautious of travel fraud since they are the most targeted consumers, according to the FBI.

·      An AARP study revealed that three out of four victims were chosen solely on the basis of their age. Consumers over the age of 50 are targeted because they have more free time, are inclined to spend money on travel and have fixed incomes.

·      Planning your vacation can be fun and exciting if you follow this golden rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

·      What looks too good to be true, usually is. Talk to your travel agent when you are unsure about online deals and “free” vacation offers. They typically can price match and then you will know you are working with a reliable source.

 As we have shared with you before, traveling can be overwhelming and stressful to begin with. Knowing that you made your arrangements through a reliable source will make sure that your arrangements are secure and confirmed. The last thing anyone wants to experience is getting to a destination where his or her luxury vacation is supposed to be and upon arrival there is nothing. Travel scams can even happen to the most experienced and sophisticated travelers. If the bargain is too good to be true, most likely it is. Be smart: Know what you are paying for before handing over money, and always count your change. 

The New Travel Protection: AirCare

by Lux Joseph 30. May 2014

A large percentage of the patients that CME transports with a medical escort are travelers that have travel insurance.  Travel insurance can save a traveler several thousand dollars all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the type of plan they purchase and what type of assistance they may need. A medical escort ranges in cost depending on the location of the patient, destination, and the type of arrangements, but it definitely saves a family a significant amount of money to have travel insurance. It is important to understand and recognize the different travel insurance and protection products that are available and their scope of coverage. We encourage you to contact your travel agent to discuss the different options available.

In this article, we are sharing with you one of the newest products to the industry provided by AirCare. While Commercial Medical Escorts works with the travel insurance and assistance companies in providing a medical escort for medical claims, many insurance products offer other travel protection services. AirCare is delivering a product to the market that will benefit a traveler somewhere every single day. Delays, missed connections, and canceled flights happen every day somewhere in the world. We all hope that it doesn’t happen to us, but you never know when it may and it is important for you to be covered and protected. That is what this product does. It isn’t insurance, it is protection.

AirCare is a product of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. This plan will compensate travelers for many of the travel inconveniences that occur on a daily basis and most of them require no claim forms to be submitted. The focus of the program is not only to provide protection, but to require minimal effort of the individual that is insured. The next time you are experiencing one of the following travel inconveniences see what AirCare is going to cover you for:

·         Lost or Stolen Luggage

·         Flight Delay Causing a Missed Connection

·         Luggage Delayed 12+ hours

·         Flight Delay 2+ hours

·         Tarmac Delay 2+ hours

Each of these unfortunate travel issues are all covered by AirCare. If your luggage is lost or stolen, AirCare will pay you $1000.00. If your flight is delayed so long that you miss a connection, Air Care will pay you $500.00. For those who check baggage to your final destination and your luggage is delayed more than 12 hours; AirCare will pay you $500.00. A flight delay more than two hours will result in a $50.00 payment and a tarmac delay more than two hours will result in $1,000.00. The compensation model that AirCare has developed is beneficial to the travelers especially considering it only costs $25 per trip. Even if travel goes perfect, the small amount the travel pays for the protection seems well worth it.

One of the great features of this protection is that you can purchase the protection up until one hour prior to the original scheduled departure. At the current time this program is only available on domestic travel, but I think we can expect to see the program expanded in the future. The program is designed so that a traveler could get multiple payouts from AirCare. If they have an unlucky travel day that is faced with a fly delay, that then results in a two hours on the tarmac, followed by a missed connection; the traveler would be looking at an automatic payout of $1,550.00. The team at AirCare monitors the flights and tracks each flight. They will know if a connection is missed, or if you are stuck on a plane and before you know it the funds are deposited into your bank account or PayPal.

Choosing the right travel insurance is never easy and that is why Commercial Medical Escorts recommends you speak with a trusted travel agent that is knowledgeable about the different products and what they have to offer. Many travelers are uneasy about travel insurance because of the complexity and AirCare is trying to remove that anxiety by providing a product that is simple to understand and manage. On March 3 Chris Isidore from CNNMoney reported that since December 1, there were over 1 million canceled or delayed flights. Just in January 2014, MasFlight reported 300,000 weather-related delays.

Consider protecting your travel for $25. Keep in mind this is not insurance and will not help you in the event you need a medical escort or air ambulance, but hopefully it will appease travelers who tend to run into travel inconveniences. If you are interested, you can purchase your plan today by visiting: https://www.bhtp.com/travel-protection/aircare.


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