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Traveling with Kids Made Simple

by Lux Joseph 30. July 2014

Trying to get that last minute family vacation in before kids return to school? Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness- and of patience. We have created a list of suggestions to help make the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.

We suggest the following tips when traveling with children:

BEFORE LEAVING:  

Build excitement. Start a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination. Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a carry-on bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.

Protect yourself. Update immunizations for the entire family. If traveling abroad, check with public health authorities for advisable additional vaccines.

TRAVELING BY AIR 

At the airport:

Allow for extra time. Give yourself plenty of time to check-in and in between connecting flights. Be sure to have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do.

Make a flight plan. Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Also, all child-related equipment must go through the X-ray machine. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment so it may be examined or put through the machine.

On the flight:

Take a seat. Bring a child/infant seat on board that meets current safety standards and is not more than 16 inches wide. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be placed in child/infant seats.

Get assigned. Getting your seat assignment in advance can help ensure families are seated together. If a flight is full and you cannot obtain seat assignments in advance, advise the airline personnel at the airport. The airline may need to ask other passengers to change seats so children are not seated apart from parents.

Bring Entertainment. With new rules and regulations, an iPad or tablet no longer needs to be turned off for take off and landing as long as it is in airplane mode. Bringing one of these that is pre-loaded with movies, educational applications, and engaging activities will keep your children from getting board.

TRAVELING BY CAR 

Get comfy. Bring pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and make use of restrooms. Play games and make sure the car is stocked with plenty of engaging toys and their favorite tapes or CDs. Most importantly, keep children involved in the vacation process. Save everything collected on vacation - brochures, napkins, ticket stubs - and have children paste them into a scrapbook.

Do your homework. Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure they offer car seats and installation. If not, you'll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller.

ONCE THERE 

Plan for down time. Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for the family.

Safety first. Bring outlet protectors and make a sweep of balconies and bathrooms for any potential dangers. Hide small objects, accessible medications and cleaners children could get their hands on. Familiarize yourself with the hotel's fire and emergency evacuation routes and procedures.

Malaysia Airlines 17 Shot Down

by Lux Joseph 19. July 2014

Just two days ago, the political unrest between Russia and Ukraine made a significant impact on the travel industry and in particular, Malaysia Airlines. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Thursday when it was reportedly shot down over eastern Ukraine. This aircraft was carrying 298 individuals aboard when it crashed. This particular area in which the plane was shot down is currently occupied by separatists looking to repatriate with Russia. The rocket launcher has been suspected to be Russian property, but responsibility and reasons as to why it was shot still remain blurred. As the investigation continues it is possible that the missile could have been from Ukraine military, Russia military or Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. While rumors and thoughts fill social media, it is confirmed that this particular crash does not have any direct relation with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared earlier this year.

Many individuals have speculated and questioned whether the air space in which Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 flew over was safe and allowed due to the current turmoil between Russia and Ukraine. Approximately 18 hours ago Malaysia Airlines tweeted that MH17 flight route was declared safe and unrestricted by ICAO and IATA. Since April 3, 2014 U.S. airlines have been prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration form flying over Crimea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azoz. All of these areas are within Ukraine. BBC reports, “U.S. carriers have also agreed to avoid flying through airspace near Russia’s border with Ukraine, the FAA said.” While the U.S. FAA may have travel restrictions or routings restricted for US Carriers, this does not apply to other carriers. In a media statement by Malaysia Airlines, the flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol. Eurocontrol is responsible for making decisions regarding the flight paths over European airspace. They are governed under ICAO rules and the service provider for Europe. MH 17 was not the only carrier with a flight that was on this route path at the same time it was shot down as well as days and weeks previous. Why was MH17 targeted? Was it by choice or just luck of the draw?

While Malaysia Airlines in their press release provided the breakdown of nationalities, four individuals still remain unidentified. At the time of the press release on Friday, July 18, 2014 no Americans were identified. At this time one American citizen has been identified of whom was raised in the Netherlands. This is a tragedy that affects people worldwide. For the Dutch community, the loss of life compared to population side is similar to the 911 incident. The airliner had 298 innocent individuals aboard and specifically about 100 scientific researchers of AIDS/HIV. This plane had some of the top HIV/AIDS researchers in the world that were en route to a conference in Melbourne Australia. Families lost their children, parents, loved ones, and friends from around the world. Only four months ago, Malaysia Airlines dealt with a tragic event in which they needed to contact next of kin for missing flight MH370 and now they face the same situation just from another perspective.

Malaysia Airlines is part of the One World Alliance and is an established airline in the industry that has received numerous awards and positive feedback. In 2013 alone, Malaysia Airlines received the following awards (http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/us/en/corporate-info/awards.html):

•    Asia’s Leading Airline from the World Travel Awards (WTA)
•    The World’s 5-Star Airline Award from Skytrax World Airline Awards
•    Best Airline Signature Dish from Skytrax World Airline Awards

While the signature dish does not apply to operations, the other two awards do. Unfortunately this airline is facing two high profile incidents in less than six months that resulted in the loss of lives of hundreds of innocent people. It is unpredictable as to how these events will affect the future of Malaysia Airlines.

A tragedy like this affects people and industries worldwide. Commercial Medical Escorts transports patients on a daily basis worldwide on commercial airlines. While many say that you are safer going on a plane then getting into your car when you go to work, there is no doubt in my mind that a disaster of this scale will impact the decisions of many in regards to flying especially in areas in/around Russia and Ukraine.

On behalf of the entire team at Commercial Medical Escorts, we would like to extend our sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of those involved in the MH17 crash. We know this this is a difficult time for all of those involved and our hearts go out to all of those affected around the world.

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

by Lux Joseph 11. July 2014

Fees for bags, fees for the lounge, and fees for in-flight beverages…the list goes on. Years ago a traveler would purchase a ticket and the sale would be complete. In today’s travel world, the sale is far from complete once you have your airline ticket. Furthermore, some recent announcements show that fees are not going anywhere. For most businesses, once fees are implemented that rarely if never go away. As a traveler, it is important to know the fees that you pay and what they are going to.

The bi-partisan budget agreement in 2013 is what is going to be affecting the restructuring of the passenger fee from TSA. Currently the fees that are in place are $2.50 per leg on a connecting flight with a one way cap of $5.00 and a roundtrip cap of $10.00. These fees will now be a flat fee of $5.60 per one way travel and $11.20 for round trip. These fees go to support t a variety of aviation security expenses.

While the aviation security fees increase may seem practical and necessary to ensure the safety of travel, those fees are not the only ones being introduced around the world. Venezuela’s largest international airport recently imposed a “breathing tax”. Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas recently installed a new air purification system and for those passengers departing out of CCS, they will have to pay a 127 bolivar per-person tax to cover this new piece of equipment. Essentially they have to pay to breathe clean air as this new system will serve to protect the health of travelers and eliminate bacterial growth. While this is beneficial to the travelers, should this expense be passed on to the travelers? Or should this be an overhead cost that the airport absorbs the expense?

Depending on the industry or arena of work, fees are applicable for different situations. Travel agents, including our in-house travel, have a fee for their services. We pay the travel agent for their expertise, knowledge, experience, and guidance. For Commercial Medical Escorts, the cost savings from using our travel agent far exceeds the fees paid. For a long time, American Express Platinum card holders were able to access the Delta Sky Lounge including one guest complimentary. However, as of recently American Express Platinum card holders have to pay a fee of $29.00 for their guest. Complimentary Sky Lounge access for members and their guests was once a benefit of being an American Express Platinum Card Holder, but now it is now another revenue opportunity for the credit card company.

When fees are implemented in any industry, it is important that the consumers see where their money is going and that it has a positive effect. Unfortunately most programs around the world that have new fees imposed are unable to effectively explain or show the benefit to the consumer whom is paying the fees. As you continue to travel, it is important to check with your airline of travel to ensure you are up to date with the most recent fees you can be expected to pay. A great resource for this information is:   http://i.slimg.com/sc/sl/graphic/u/ul/ultimate-guide-to-airline-fees_050114.pdf


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