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Holiday Travel Trends

by Lux Joseph 25. October 2013

The holiday season is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is considered one of the busiest times to travel and that only means an increase in business at Commercial Medical Escorts. According to the US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year. CME’s business is focused around individuals who fall ill or injured while they are traveling around the world. It appears like this year will be no different than previous years in terms of business, but the airlines show ticket costs to be on the rise.

Airlines Reporting Corp (ARC) has reported that airline ticket prices have increased 9.4% from last year for flights to the US and Caribbean during Thanksgiving week. Sales for tickets at Christmas time have also increased 7.3%. It appears that each and every year costs are continuing to increase. These numbers only represent an increase in the base fare. That doesn’t take into consideration the fees and taxes that have increase over the year as well. These increased fares are representation of airline consolidation and decreased airline routes; two efforts made by airlines to reduce costs and be more effective players in the travel industry. Their goal is to fill the plane, and that is what they are doing. Years ago you would get onto the plane and once the boarding door closed you would have the opportunity to move around, stretch out, or be fortunate to have a row to yourself. Today that is rare. You are more likely to hear an announcement from the agent at the gate looking for volunteers to take an alternate flight because the current one is overbooked. When looking to purchase your travel arrangements it helps to do so early and do your research.

The holiday season is a critical time period for airlines to make up for lost revenue in the fall/winter.  Holidays are guaranteed travel because it is a time when families want to be close to relatives and friends. Choosing the right days for travel can present cost savings. For instance, in a recent study completed by CheapAir returning on Saturday as opposed to Sunday will yield a 10% savings. When it comes to moving patients during the holidays we are faced with very limited availability and high costs. Almost every year CME will have a request to move a patient on the Wednesday prior or Thanksgiving Day. As with most of our requests, they typically come in within 24-48 hours of an anticipated repatriation. As I am sure you can imagine, availability on the airlines is very limited and the tickets have a high price point. Being home for the holidays with your family is priceless and each year we look forward to being able to do the impossible to make that happen for those passengers requiring a medical escort.

 When traveling during Christmas and Thanksgiving it is a smart idea to make your travel arrangements in advance. Years ago booking at the last minute sometimes offered cost savings due to airlines wanting to fill their last seats available. Today that is no longer the case. Almost every flight is full and when the flights are full that typically means the fare is higher. Flexibility to change your flight is usually nonexistent and if you miss a connection it may mean spending the night in an airport. Booking your flight early will always be a positive choice.  Things to consider when booking your holiday travel include: 

·         Connections: Look at your connection times carefully. You should build sufficient time in for delays, weather, and getting to your connecting gate. The 40 minute connect

·         Be Early: It is important for you to arrive extra early at the airport during busy travel times. Busy travel times mean increased security lines, full parking lots, increased check in times, and additional luggage being checked. 

·         Airport Selection: Understanding the airport you are arriving into is critical. In Boca Raton, FL we have three airports to our disposal: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Looking into all airports can offer cost savings and during travel season smaller airports may be less hectic.

 

Commercial Medical Escorts is wishing you safe travels this upcoming holiday season. Should you fall ill or injured and need a medical escort to take you home, we will be readily available and hopefully can get you home to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

Holiday Travel on a Budget

by Aleia 12. November 2012

 

 

Traveling Without Breaking the Bank

 

Traveling can become costly any time of the year, but it always feels particularly expensive around the holidays.  If you are wanting to save a couple bucks on travel to put towards your gift budget here are some tips that might help you get through holiday traveling. 

 

Holiday Travel By Air

  • If at all possible travel on the actual date of the holiday, it is much less expensive (less crowded too!) if you travel on Thanksgiving day rather than the day before or after.  If you can’t travel on the actual date it’s best to avoid the two days before and the two after a major holiday as the airports are at their busiest and their prices reflect that.
  •  The least expensive days to fly tend to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
  • Buying airline tickets in advance can be very cost effective but make sure that you don’t book too early as airlines don’t re-assess cost for tickets in relations to supply/demand/cost until roughly 3 months prior to travel date. 
  • Consider alternate airports.  Smaller airports might have better airfare and be less crowded, especially during the holiday season.  It is a good idea to check what airports are close to both your arrival and departure cities. 
  •  A good tool to search airports by distance to city is: http://travel.travelocity.com/car/PreClosestAirport.do?txnType=pickup
  •  There are two dangerous traps to fall in to price-wise:  booking online and booking connecting flights.  Both of these seem like a cost-effective move but can easily turn into an expensive option.  Non-stop flights may sometimes be more expensive initially but it’s much less expensive than having to re-book because of flight days that could cause you an expensive and unexpected overnight stay.  Also, when flights become over-booked people who have used online budget sites to book flights tend to be the first people pushed onto a later flight rather than people who have booked through a travel agent or airline, this delay can cause missed connections or cause re-ticketing fees which add up.

Holiday Accommodations

  • Don’t be afraid to attempt to negotiate rates with hotels.  Many hotels will lower rates, give free upgrades, or even perks that can make your stay more comfortable.  Check the online rates but always make sure to contact the hotel as well and see what options you have.
  • Over the holidays business hotels tend to have lower prices and are less hectic since they tend to depend on business travel which slows during the holiday season.
  • If you have a particular preference for a hotel chain or destination follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking sites, you might score a promotion that’s only offered through those sites. 
  • If you aren’t traveling to visit family but are instead taking a family vacation or planning on spending the holidays with a group of friends, shop around before making a decision about your destination.  Due to the current economy many hotels and resorts are offering special deals that may include free nights, large discounts, special holiday services, or even nannies

Random Budget Tips

  • If you’re spending the holidays without family “party cities” such as Las Vegas or New Orleans during the weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be much less expensive to fly to and stay at.
  • Look online for a travel cost calculator to give you an idea for the budget you’re looking at so you can plan accordingly.
  • Bring an empty water bottle and after security you can keep re-filling it rather than paying airport prices.
  •  Packing a couple granola bars or a bag of trail mix in your carry-on could end up saving you a good deal of money if there is a flight delay rather than purchasing snacks in-flight.
  •  Don’t forget to look into  traveling by train.  While it may be a longer time spent on travel then you were originally planning it tends to be less expensive and less stressful if you are traveling with small children or elderly family members.  The extra room and freedom of movement can be worth the extra time it takes to get to your destination.
  • The most important thing is to be flexible and to plan ahead.  Flying  a day later or earlier can make for a less expensive trip and the willingness to consider staying at a different resort might land you a free meal plan for your whole party, shop around a bit and try to stay open-minded and you might be surprised how inexpensive your dream vacation is. 

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