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Disney World Implements a New Disability Policy

by Lux Joseph 11. October 2013

On a daily basis, CME is working with individuals with disabilities. Those individuals who have special needs and disabilities require special assistance from our team and we focus on delivering individualized quality service to meet those needs. As we have mentioned before, every traveler has different needs and we tailor each of our transports ensure their travel home is comfortable. Breaking news from the Walt Disney World Company this week was presented to those travelers with disabilities about a policy change at their theme parks and how those travelers will be affected in their upcoming visits.

Obviously this policy does not affect Commercial Medical Escorts, Inc. when we are transporting patients around the world, but I think it is important to recognize policies that are affecting the population that we assist each and every day. On Wednesday, Disney introduced a new policy for those travelers with disabilities to reduce the number of people that have been abusing the policy. Over the years numerous guests to the resort have hired tour guides that are disabled to go to the front of the line of every ride attraction. For those individuals with a disability, this seems reasonable and appropriate, but when people start faking a disability, utilizing crutches or other disability tools, or hiring a disabled tour guide to zip to the front of every line the policy gets abused. That is exactly what happened and Disney World is taking action and taking a firm position to address the situation.

It is a sad and disappointing situation for those travelers with true disabilities however, the Disney World Company believe they are effectively finding a solution. With any change to policies and procedures there will always be someone who is not satisfied with the result, but it is important for the resort to look at different perspectives and find the best system to assist the travelers with special needs. It may appear that the disabled travelers are being punished for actions completed by those who exploited the program, but at this time the program has only been in place for three days and I believe improvements will continue to take place with this program.

The new system is similar to the Fast Pass program that is currently in place for guests to return to an attraction ride at a later designated time to reduce the wait time in long lines. The new Disability Access Card will act similar to that program.  The Walt Disney World website outlines the program as the following:

The DAS Card is designed to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations and will offer guests a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. As soon as the Guest finishes one attraction, they can receive a return time for another. This service can be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+ service. (www.disneypakrs.disney.go.com)

Everyone has their opinion about the program but the purpose of the program is to eliminate the abuse that the system has had over the years. Disney takes pride in ensuring that each guest is treated as an individual and providing assistance to those travelers with disabilities will always be a focus of the program. Each and every case will be handled by Disney on a case by case basis.

Commercial Medical Escorts takes the time to ensure our travelers with disabilities have a positive experience on their way home with our medical escort. From airline tickets, airport accommodations, ground transportation, and helping the patient get settled into their home/residence, CME takes time to make sure our patients have everything they need to travel comfortably.

Our in-house travel department has travel professionals who are accessible travel advocates certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry. These individuals have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip. By having our travel department specialized in this area, we can ensure our patients and clients, that we are doing everything possible to provide the highest level of patient care.

 

Lufthansa Premium Economy Introduced in 2014

by Lux Joseph 27. September 2013

When selecting the appropriate airline to transport a patient back home there are several factors to consider. We always want to look for the most direct route available and the class of service that will be suitable for transferring the patient. Typically all patients are transferred in first class or business class due to the nature of their injury or disability, but there may be situations in which the treating physician does not feel that upgraded seating is necessary for transport. In these situations premium economy may be a better fit as the seats offer additional room for the nurse or physician to assist the patient compared to the standard economy. Premium economy cabins are fairly new to the travel industry and not all airlines have introduced this product on their flights. Therefore, when a medical escort is requested for this class of service we are often limited to what airlines we can choose. However, the recent breaking news from Lufthansa shows a positive result in the near future.

Lufthansa is one of the airlines that Commercial Medical Escorts (CME) uses very frequently when moving patients to/from Europe. Their dedicated medical desk is open daily to assist us with travelers that require medical clearance. This is very convenient and provides tremendous support to our operations and medical team. Lufthansa currently only offers three classes of service on its A380 aircraft; economy, business, and first class. Lufthansa recently ordered 3,000 seats from ZIM Flugsitz GmbH and has intentions to upgrade approximately 10% of their economy class seats to premium economy in 2014. The premium economy product will offer additional seat pitch, additional benefits for the passengers in flight and on the ground, and the seats will be wider. Other airlines that offer a premium economy product offer similar services with extra leg room, priority boarding, complimentary alcohol beverages, and other perks for the traveler.

Lufthansa is making efforts to attract more travelers. As you may have read from previous blog postings, many of the airlines are attempting different marketing strategies to acquire more business. Lufthansa may be the second largest airline in Europe, but they are still behind in terms of offering particular products. British Airways introduced premium economy in 2000, over ten years ago. Lufthansa claims to offer the largest number of business and first class seats in the industry, but even when you look at their business class product it is still behind their competitors. Many of the airlines offer full lie-flat bed in their business class as well, but it wasn’t until now that Lufthansa is looking into that product.

Implementing and designing a new product or service can take a long time. You don’t want to create a product/service that is the same. You want to ensure that your product stands out amongst your competitors and drive business away from them. Lufthansa’s premium economy will offer extra luxury and comfort for those travelers who wish to pay for it. This will be a new product that CME will definitely look into in addition to the lie flat bed. Currently if we have a patient that requires to be lying flat throughout the duration of the flight we have to look into airlines other than Lufthansa. The debut of this new product will add additional flexibility as we determine the best flight to bring our patients safely to their destination.

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.


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