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Uber, Taxi, or Just Walk?

by Blake 8. August 2017

Uber, Taxi, or Just Walk? Tips for Traveling When You’re Traveling

If you’ve ever planned a trip abroad, you’ve likely spent hours researching and comparing flights, hotels, restaurants, and activities before you’ve made a single booking. One thing that travelers often forget to plan is how to explore their destination once they’ve arrived. Sure, there might be dozens of activities within walking distance of your hotel, but what about the attraction that you’re dying to see that’s miles away? What if you pick a destination with plenty of activities, but poor or unreliable public transportation?

Most of us rely on private drivers in situations like these. Whether you prefer metered, licensed taxi services or ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, there are plenty of reasons why most of us might choose to hire a ride. They’re usually less stressful and more cost-effective than renting a vehicle, and one doesn’t have to be familiar with the local landscape and traffic to get where they’re going if they hire a local driver.

That being said, there are still risks related to hiring a driver when traveling. Reports of people becoming victims of crime from people posing as hired drivers are all too common these days. These dangers can become even greater when traveling internationally. You can avoid a lot of potentially threatening situations by considering a few things beforehand.

1.     Research both public and private transportation options prior to arriving at your destination. Public transportation vehicles and stations are often monitored by surveillance and law enforcement officers, which may make them a safer option. If public transportation is not a reliable option, you should also note that the ride-sharing app that you use locally may not be available in your destination city. Even if it is available, it may not be the safest method of hiring a driver. Licensed taxi drivers have long opposed competition from ride-sharing apps because they are often undercut on rates. In cities like New York, Paris, London, Mexico City, and Johannesburg, Uber and Lyft drivers have become targets of violence from taxi drivers. For all these reasons, its best to research your transportation options before you really need to use them.

2.     If you hire a taxi driver, be advised that, in some countries, cash is the only accepted payment option. Have some local currency on hand before you hail a cab to avoid any confrontation with the driver at your drop-off spot.

3.     If you’re using a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft, make sure to identify the vehicle and driver prior to entering the vehicle. The app should tell you the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle as well as the first name of the driver. Also, ask your driver to identify the name of the person who requested the ride. Simply ask, “What’s my name?” before you enter the vehicle to make certain that you have the right driver.

4.     Share your ride status with someone you trust. Ride-sharing apps typically have a “Send Status” feature that allows others to track your ride using GPS. If they notice anything abnormal about your route, they will be able to contact police and alert them of the problem.

5.     Transactions for ride-sharing apps are always completed electronically using a credit, debit, or gift card. If an Uber or Lyft driver ever asks for a cash payment, consider it a red flag and leave the vehicle before the ride starts.

6.     Regardless of whether your ride is a taxi, Uber, or Lyft, request pick-up and drop-off locations in areas that are well-lit and well-populated, if possible.

At CME, safety is always our top priority when planning a trip. We use only commercially-licensed drivers with the proper skills and equipment relevant to each client’s needs. We always appreciate feedback from our clients and friends about their questions, comments, and concerns about ground transportation. 

 

Commercial Medical Escorts Urges Online Travelers ‘Think Before You Click’

by Lux Joseph 18. September 2014

Despite media hype pitting travel agents against the Internet, travel agents continue to embrace the Web as a valuable source of travel information and encourage their clients to take advantage of it. However, Joseph McNamara, President of Sky Cap Corp advises consumers to exercise caution before buying travel products online.

"Buying travel on the Internet is not for everyone," says McNamara. "Consumers have to know what to ask and when to ask it or they could end up wasting hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a trip that fails to meet their expectations."

As part of its continuing mission to provide useful travel information for its clients, Sky Cap Corp addresses many of the common concerns and questions consumers face when considering buying travel online.

Should consumers use the Internet to plan a trip? "Absolutely," said McNamara "But the key word here is ‘plan’. The Internet is a great source of information about destinations, hotels, attractions, local transportation and weather and more. However, the Internet often doesn’t provide the detail and depth travelers need to prepare a complete itinerary." Travelers should always consult a professional travel agency such as Sky Cap Corp before making any travel purchase. This is one of the reasons why Commercial Medical Escorts is so successful with travel arrangements for our patients.

Do consumers get the lowest airfare from a travel Web site? Not always. Most "bargains" sold on the Internet are usually for limited times and are highly restricted, forcing some travelers to change their itineraries to include a "red-eye" flight or layovers. Some sites that allow consumers to perform a search for the lowest price don’t include discounted consolidator air tickets. While other Internet sites do offer these tickets, traditional travel agencies offer the same discounts, in addition to valuable customer service and expertise.

Are tour prices cheaper online? Usually, no. Although many wholesale tour operators maintain Web sites, they don’t offer discounts there. Sky Cap Corp can help clients choose the tour that’s right for them and in most cases save the client as much money if not more.

Is the Internet a good source for hotel discounts? Although several hotel chains offer discounts on their Web sites, duplicate promotions are usually available offline. Hotel discounters have sites as well, but the best deals usually come from chain-sponsored promotions and parallel deals offered through your local travel agent. These experienced travel agents can also help clients find hotels at locations most convenient for them.

Other common consumer concerns about buying travel online include issues of security, cancellations and customer service. It is particularly important for those planning trips involving groups, young children and the disabled to seek the help of a travel agent. In addition, today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique, customized trips that often require the assistance of a skilled travel professional.

"The bottom line is that smart travelers know their time, money and travel dreams are too important to be left floating in cyber-space," said McNamara. "And the customer satisfaction that comes with a travel agents’ hard work, expertise and quality service will never go out of style. We are there for our clients before, during and after their trip."

Airline Travel Remans the Safest Form of Travel in the World

by Lux Joseph 17. August 2014

The Ebola virus outbreak, the political unrest in Israel, and the storms surfacing around Hawaii in the past several weeks may have travelers questioning the safety of air travel during this time. While there may have been different passenger plane crashes and other critical situations surround air travel, airline travel still is the safest form of travel in the world.

At Commercial Medical Escorts we primarily transport patients around the world on a commercial airline however, we also have completed a variety of medical evacuations by train, ground transportation (limo and ambulance), and even by boat. When travelers read the newspaper or watch the news and listen to air-related travel situations their views of air travel sometimes change. There were three (3) passenger planes that have crashed in July, but when you look at each of these crashes they are were the result of different circumstances. One was due to typhoon on Taiwan, one was shot done over Ukraine, and another one was due to stormy weather. When we look at travel by car on a daily basis, the crash investigations throughout the country vary and the rate is significantly higher than traveling by air.

Some individuals will hold onto their belief that flying is dangerous, but there are safety facts and statistics that will prove that belief is not 100% accurate.  Dr. Arnold Barnett, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a researcher that has studied the field of commercial flight safety. He found that over the fifteen years between 1975 and 1994, the death risk per flight was one in seven million. This statistic is the probability that someone who randomly selected one of the airline's flights over the 19-year study period would be killed in route. That means that any time you board a flight on a major carrier in this country, your chance of being in a fatal accident is one in seven million. It doesn't matter whether you fly once every three years or every day of the year.

When an individual gets into a car to go to work every day there are safety guidelines that the operator is supposed to do including checking the air pressure in the tires, check the fuel and fluid levels, check your lights and signals to ensure they are functional, and make sure emergency equipment is functional. Do you do this? How many drivers to you think actually do this every day? Individuals fear the possibility of a plane crashing, but the flying public may not understand how precisely-engineered each piece of critical avionics must be in order to satisfy FAA regulations for a "safety of life" application and the rigorous process each plane goes through prior to leaving the gate. Aviation and national security expert Carl Rochelle states, “The most dangerous part of your airline flight is the trip to the airport.”

Safety is our top priority at Commercial Medical Escorts and to ensure you are safe while traveling alone we recommend the following safety tips:

Fly on Nonstop Routings

Most airliner accidents happen during the takeoff, climb, descent, and landing phase of flight, so the easiest way to reduce your chance of getting in an accident is to take fewer flights. If you have a choice, and there isn't much difference in price, flying nonstop would not only reduce exposure to the most accident prone phases of flight, but it will probably take quite a bit of time off your trip too.

Choose Larger Aircraft

Currently, aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats were all designed and certified under the strictest regulations. Also, in the unlikely event of a serious accident, larger aircraft provide a better opportunity for passenger survival. If you review AirSafe.com's list of fatal airline passenger events by aircraft model, you'll see that larger aircraft models tend to have better survival statistics.

Pay Attention to the Preflight Briefing

Although the information seems repetitious, the locations of the closest emergency exits may be different depending on the aircraft that you fly on and seat you are in. Some passenger safety briefings include a few words about the position to take in an emergency landing, and AiSafe.com has put together a video below that goes into much greater detail, showing six common crash positions.

Keep the Overhead Storage Bin Free of Heavy Articles

Overhead storage bins may not be able to hold very heavy objects during turbulence, so if you or another passenger have trouble lifting an article into the bin, have it stored elsewhere. A heavy bag falling out of an overhead bin can cause a serious injury, so if one is above your head, try to move the bag or change your seat.

Keep Your Seat Belt Fastened While You are Seated

Keeping the belt on when you are seated provides that extra protection you might need to help you avoid injuries from flight turbulence.

Listen to the Flight Attendants

The primary reason flight attendants are on an aircraft is for safety, so if one of them asks you to do something like fasten your seat belts, do it first and ask questions later. You can also take other steps to improve your safety and comfort in the cabin like wearing comfortable clothes. You should also get up a walk around on longer flights to help avoid problems like deep vein thrombosis.

Don't Bring Any Hazardous Material

There are rather long lists of hazardous materials that are not allowed, but common sense should tell you that you shouldn't bring gasoline, corrosives, poisonous gases, and other such items on the aircraft unless they were allowed by the airline and shipped in a proper container. While the list of banned materials is too long to remember, you should take the time to find out about the most common prohibited and hazardous items you should not bring on board.

Let the Flight Attendant Pour Your Hot Drinks

Flight attendants are trained to handle hot drinks like coffee or tea in a crowded aisle on a moving aircraft, so allow them to pour the drink and hand it too you.

Don't Drink Too Much

The atmosphere in an airliner cabin is pressurized to about the same altitude as Denver, so any alcohol you consume will affect you more strongly than at sea level. Moderation is a good policy at any altitude, and in the air limiting your drinking is a good way to reduce the chance of an air rage incident involving you or someone else. Also, you may want to find out more about the long-term effects of alcohol abuse.

Remain Calm

In the unlikely event that you are involved in an emergency situation such as a precautionary emergency evacuation, follow the directions of the flight attendants and flight crew and exit the aircraft as quickly as possible. 

Tips courtesy of AirSafe.com


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