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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.

Fastport Passport Now in Delray Beach

by Lux Joseph 14. March 2014

At Commercial Medical Escorts it is vital that we have clinicians on staff that are able to travel around the world at any given moment in time. Each and every week our operations team is presented with different cases in which we need to transport a patient safely back home. Although we are a US based company, we do many transports throughout the world that never touch US soil. For example, we transported a patient from Dubai to London, UK and recently moved a patient from South America to Paris, FR. Every day brings exciting new challenges and every year we encounter destinations we have never been before.  As a US Citizen, traveling on a moment’s notice to India, China, Russia, and Liberia would be simple if you didn’t need a visa. However, as we are all aware, entry requirements for countries are continuously changing including the processing times in which a visa can be required. These countries are just a selection of those countries that require US Citizens to have a visa.

At CME, we never know where our next request is going to send our medical escorts. We make every attempt to ensure we have medical escorts on staff with visas to a variety of countries at any given point of time. Even when our team anticipates the travel needs of our clients, there is always a request that may require us to acquire a visa for the medical escort within a moments notice. For these cases it is important to have a visa-processing center that is able to fulfill your request. A visa-processing center that is able to expedite a visa is beneficial for those last minute travel plans. Fastport Passport just recently opened a new location in Delray Beach that will be able to assist us with these types of services.

Fastport Passport is a Third Party emergency visa and passport expediting service registered with the US Department of State. They have been operating for over 10 years with a 99.9% success rate, securing over 100 passports per day. They serve clients across all 50 states that are traveling internationally within 14 days or less.

This particular location accepts walk-in appointments between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. They have also made it convenient so that you can easily complete your application and order online. Having a visa-processing center that is readily available to assist you is critical. If you do not have one that is local, this requires you to FEDEX overnight your application package to their office. Getting that application finished, error free, and at FEDEX prior to that last pick up is not always easy. With this new location open that is just minutes away from our office, we hope that it increases our ability to assist our clients more efficiently.

Having a visa-processing center nearby is only one part of successfully acquiring a visa to enter a country. Applying for a visa is not a simple process. A small error like forgetting to check a box or not including a particular document request can delay your application. If you have been in the military before, and there is a question regarding whether or not you have had weapons training, the answer should be “yes” according to the Russian Embassy. Check your application twice before submitting. Have a friend or colleague review it with you to ensure everything has been answer. Most importantly, don’t forget to sign the application. They will not accept a fax or emailed revised application.

Not sure if the country you are traveling requires a visa for entry? Visit travel.state.gov to find the latest up to date information on the country you are visiting. This website also includes current political information, safety tips, currency used in the country, and other key information for travel.


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