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Stay Calm, Cool, and Collected for Summer Travel

by Lux Joseph 6. July 2014

Recent headlines are full of reports predicting that this summer will be a record-breaker when it comes to airline passengers being bumped from their flights. For many, the prospect of being bumped is frustrating at best, and for those who are unaware of their rights, the results can be maddening, not to mention costly. For Commercial Medical Escorts, this could affect a medical repatriation significantly and is something our travel department watches very closely. Add to that ever-changing security rules and new passport requirements and summer travel can seem daunting. With this in mind, Commercial Medical Escorts has prepared a list of tips to help summer travelers stay calm, cool and collected.

Airline Bumping: What You Need to Know 

To avoid being bumped:

  • Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released.
  • Check-in online. If you do not have an advance seat assignment, or you want to change your seat assignment, 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.
  • Don't be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early. Some airlines reserve a portion of their seat assignment inventory for airport check-in. If you are denied a seat assignment at check-in, put your name on the "standby" seat assignment list. CME advises our medical escorts to arrive to the airport 3 hours in advance for international flights and 2 hours in advance for domestic flights.

If you are bumped or wish to take advantage of airline's request that you give up your seat:

  • Know the lingo. Voluntary bumping occurs when a passenger with a confirmed seat assignment agrees to give up his seat for negotiated compensation. It is not regulated by the DOT. Involuntary bumping occurs when an airline forcibly bumps a paid passenger from a flight because it has been oversold. The DOT regulates compensation for involuntary bumping.
  • Know what questions to ask. If you volunteer to give up your seat in response to an airline offer of a free ticket, it is important passengers ask about restrictions. Ask about expiration and blackout dates, such as holidays.
  • Know your rights. If you are involuntarily denied boarding, and substitute transportation is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to your one-way fare to your final destination, with a $200 maximum. If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (twice the cost of your fare, $400 maximum).

Navigating Security 

  • Remember 3-1-1. New regulations limit the amount of 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. Items purchased after clearing security may be brought on-board. (Visit TravelSense.org to learn about restrictions in Canada, the U.K. and the European Union.)
  • Know your limits. Pack light and know baggage limits. Most airlines now charge for a first piece of checked luggage. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are one of the few carriers that still do not charge for that first piece of checked luggage.

Traveling Internationally? 

  • Better get a passport. Effective Jan. 1, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires a passport or other accepted document for all air travel from within the Western Hemisphere for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory (Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) do not need to present a passport.
  • Plan (way) ahead. The U.S. State Department's Passport Services unit is experiencing a major backlog in processing applications. Rather than taking four to six weeks, routine applications or renewals are now taking 12 weeks. Even expedited service takes about three to four weeks. And, because the service uses a centralized system, travelers cannot get their documents faster by submitting applications directly to a regional processing facility.

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.

 


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