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Tracking Down Lost Luggage

ID-100255258One of the most frustrating things about airline travel is when luggage is lost. The good news is nearly 98 percent of all lost luggage is eventually tracked down and returned to the owner. But the process can still be frustrating and take several days to be resolved, leaving you without your important items you needed to travel. There are steps you can take to become more informed about what to do when an airline loses your luggage so you can speed up the recovery process.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when an airline loses your luggage is leaving the airport. Sometimes frustrations, combined with the wariness of travel can cause someone to give up and go home if they don’t see their luggage in the carousel. Never leave, and immediately track down a representative from the airline you used to travel.

File a report at the airport instead of trying to call on the phone. It’s quicker and you can get more immediate results. Typically airlines will allow up to 24 hours to file a missing luggage report, but for some there is a limit of only a few hours. If the bags went to another flight you can have them within a few hours. If they went to the wrong airport, it can take a few days. Typically the airline will bring the bags to you so you don’t have to return to the airport.

Never discard your plane tickets until you have your luggage in your hand. If you need to track down missing luggage you will need to present your tickets to the airline representative. Airlines use your tickets as a starting point to tracking down your luggage. You may also receive specific tracking numbers for each piece of checked luggage. You’ll also need to provide specific information about your luggage, like color, shape, size, etc.

You should also be on the look out for duplicate luggage. Common suitcases may increase the chance that your luggage could be picked up by mistake by someone else on your flight. If you find yourself at the carousel after all the other passengers on your flight, be on the look out for luggage that looks like yours, or have similar qualities. Your travel carrier may be able to use the information on that luggage to track down the person who picked up your luggage accidentally.

Last but not least, when talking to airline staff, always be polite. Try to remain patient no matter how frustrated you may be. You can ask anyone that works with the public. Staff are always more likely to go the extra mile for you if you are easy to deal with and kind.


Airplane Delay Survival Tips

airport-delayWe are in the heart of winter, which is the most common season for flight delays. Winter storms can affect flights no matter where you are traveling to, or from. It can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you have to complete rearrange your schedule. However there are ways you can cope with the stress of being stuck in an airport.

1. Travel Insurance

We’ve talked about the importance of travel insurance for air ambulances, but travel insurance can also help save you cash if you are stuck in a storm. In some cases travel insurance will help cover the costs of your un-planned stay, including food and accommodations. Talk with your insurance provider if you are traveling somewhere that sees frequent storms in the winter.

2. Plan for Your Delay

Stay on top of the current weather and pack for any potential delays. Check flight schedules before you leave for the airport. Even if there is a slim chance you’ll get stuck it is still a good idea to be prepared. Bring extra items to keep you entertained like books, tablets, DVDs, etc. Pick up snacks at the grocery store to save a bundle on expensive airport food. And bring a blanket if you plan on staying at the airport overnight. Sometimes airports will provide pillows and blankets for those stranded, but having a small comfort from home will help you relax better.

3. Pick Your Airport Wisely

Some airports are better at handling delays then others. If you have the choice between multiple airports in an area try to book a flight at the airport with the most runways. More runways means the airport will be up and running faster and is more likely to close on time. Also, check possible connecting flights. You’re more likely to have a delay in the winter if you have a connection through Chicago over other popular connecting hubs like Atlanta or Dallas.

4. Find Out About Change Fees

If a storm is serious enough some airlines will waive a change fee to book a different flight. Some airlines don’t charge a fee at all. The point: Every airline is different so it’s important to find out if you’ll be charged a fee. If you’re flexible some airlines may even offer you incentives if you change your flight to help out fellow passengers.

5. Don’t Take it Out on the Staff

Bad weather takes its toll on airport and airline staff as well. They didn’t cause you to be delayed so don’t take it out on them. Be calm and try to relax and trust the airline will do whatever they can to help you go where you need to go as soon as it’s safe to do so. Keep important info like booking numbers and tickets handy to keep the line moving. While you wait, don’t just talk to the staff. Research other travel options on different travel websites to try to make sure you’re getting the best, and fastest, deal on a new flight.


Should Travel Alerts Affect Your Trip?

travel-alertsIf you have been planning for months, or years for an important international trip, or if you are required to travel for business, a travel alert issued by the government can be a huge clog in your planning. The government issues a travel alert for “short term events we think you should know about” and a travel warning when it’s important “to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all.” Travel alerts and travel warnings are pause for concern, but should you cancel your trip?

When traveling your safety should be your number one priority. Travel alerts are typically issued for short term reasons like a illness outbreak or natural disaster. Travel warnings are much more long-term and can last for several years, or until a situation changes. Warnings are typically the results of political upheaval. Odds are, you aren’t planning a trip to Syria, for example. But not all travel warnings should cancel you trip.

When evaluating whether or not to travel find out if the entire country is affected by what advisory. Typically any natural disaster or violence are confined to a particular area of a country and the rest of the country is totally safe. An outside example of this is a foreign country issuing travel advisories for anyone thinking about visiting the Gulf Coast in the USA during hurricane season.

You should also check different nations to cross-reference the alerts. Sometimes countries will issue travel restrictions based solely on political motivations. Check multiple government and organizational travel advisories. If you see the alert posted on more than a couple you should take those advisories extra seriously.

Travel warnings dealing with terrorism should be closely followed. Pay attention to who is being targeted on the attacks. If an attack is focused on foreigners that should raise an obvious red flag to stay away from the region. If the targets are for religious or political reasons make sure you don’t fit any stereotypes that terrorists may use to target people. Again, research any parts of countries you plan on visiting. There is a big difference between traveling to certain Middle-Eastern countries, for example, some of which are allies and very westernized.

Traveling is areas that have alerts or warnings could have a potential impact on your insurance. Depending on the situation and the details of your plan some benefits can be in place for traveling in suspect situations, while other parts of your plan may be voided because of the dangers associated with your travel.

Medical benefits can be affected by this and insurance companies will usually make special announcements about how advisories will affect plans. For example, medical plans for travel cover acts of terrorism but the benefits can be voided if a travel advisory has been issued. It’s very important to talk with your insurance adviser before taking any trip if there are advisories out for the country you plan to visit.

If you plan to ignore advisories at all cost and travel the least you should consider is whether or not the country has a US Embassy or consulate. Both of these places will offer refuge for you should you find yourself in a dangerous situation and will work with you to bring you home. You should also alert family and friends of your travel plans so they can reach out to an embassy or consulate if needed.


Medicare Air Ambulances Coverage

air-ambulancesIf you are on Medicare understanding what is covered for air ambulances can be confusing. Depending on the situation and the type of Medicare will determine what, if any, coverages you will have for air ambulances. Navigating the Medicare air ambulances information can be time consuming but our guide will help you start the complicated process.

Medicare Part B covers air ambulances under certain emergency conditions. Air ambulances are covered if you are injured and require immediate ambulance transportation that can’t be provided by a ground ambulance. Examples of this situation is if you are in a remote area not easily accessed by ground, or if you are in a traffic accident and ground ambulances can’t make it through heavy traffic.

Typically Medicare Part B only covers air ambulances in times of immediate emergency. You may get some limited coverage in a few non-emergency situations. If air ambulances are your only option because another form of transportation could endanger your life, you would be covered. You’ll also have limited coverage if you need air ambulances to obtain treatment for an illness or for a diagnosis. You can also get a written note from a doctor that states that air ambulances are necessary for your health. The doctor’s note must be dated no earlier than 60 days prior to your trip.

One key to air ambulances and Medicare coverage is to remember that Medicare will only cover you to the nearest hospital or medical facility. One surprise for many people who use air ambulances is they don’t have a say in where they are transported to. If you want to be transported to a different medical care facility you will likely have to arrange for your own air ambulances.

Medicare will cover 80% of air ambulances in emergency situations, after your deductible. Costs and coverages for air ambulances and Medicare coverage can change. Medicare funding can be changed by Congress at different times during the year, and those changes could impact everything, including air ambulances. You should always contact a healthcare insurance professional to find out what air ambulances coverages are available to you.

If you are in a non-emergency situation air ambulance companies will provide you with an “Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage” (ABN) prior to your trip. Travel Care Air is based in South Carolina, which has special rules for multiple air ambulances. If you get non-emergency, medically necessary transportation three or more times in a 10 day period Medicare requires us to get prior authorization for a fourth trip within 30 days. This means you’ll know if you are covered and also applies in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At Travel Care we are always ready to answer your insurance questions, so feel free to call us anytime.


Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

ID-100226283One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to take better care of their health. In fact, six of the top 10 resolutions in America are health-related. Unfortunately most resolutions are broken. In 2013 Forbes did a survey that found that only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions. Still, when it comes to health it is vital to stay on track. Coming up with manageable goals will help ensure a healthy 2015 for you.

One of the popular health-related New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. This is something that millions of people struggle with and the goals can be abandoned early after the new year because many people expect immediate results. Instead of focusing on the larger picture, make your resolutions more about lifestyle changes to help you loose weight. For example, a resolution that is more likely to last is to eat smaller portions of food. Studies show that using smaller plates and bowls will help people lose weight by helping to curb overeating. Get rid of your large plates and bowls and swap them for smaller options for a smaller waistline.

Another way to get more healthy in 2015 is to make a resolution to spend more time in the kitchen. Sounds like it would have the opposite effect, right? But spending time in the kitchen, cooking and preparing your own meals will allow you to be able to keep track of calories. You’ll also know exactly what you’re putting in your food. Cook more at home and you will be able to lose weight easier and you’ll feel better.

Another popular, but often abandoned resolution is to quit smoking. As a former smoker myself, I can tell you how difficult, but rewarding this resolution can be. For many people quitting smoking takes a few tries. The options to help you quit vary and for many people different ways will work. For me, it was cold turkey (plus locking myself in my apartment for a few days to avoid interacting with people while I was cranky). One option to help is to plan a budget without the cost of cigarettes so you can see how much money you’ll save by quitting. There are also support groups and doctors can prescribe medication to help you quit.

One resolution that people don’t think about, but can have a big impact on health is to reduce stress. Pent up negative feelings that get bottled up inside can do a lot of harm to your health. Popular research shows that not managing stress well can lead to depression and can cause problems for the cardiovascular, nervous, immune and digestive systems. One great way to deal with stress is to exercise. If you have a stressful day, go for a run, play basketball or do something to burn off those stress hormones. For more serious cases a trip to the doctor or talking to a psychologist may be the best option.

Whatever your resolutions are for this year, we hope that 2015 treats you with joy and happiness and success in your ambitions. Happy New Year from all of us at Travel Care Air!


When the Air Ambulance Bill Arrives

air-ambulanceRecently an article written by the World-Herald highlighted potential issues for people who need an air ambulance. Insurance is the number one concern for most people involved in air ambulance services. This is especially true for patients who don’t plan on using an air ambulance, such as someone who needs to be life-flighted to a hospital to receive special care after a car accident.

Receiving a bill for an air ambulance can be a shock to people. An air ambulance flight can be costly, depending on many factors, and the wrong insurance could stick you with a large sum of the bill. It’s always important to remember that anything may happen. Having coverage for an air ambulance flight is not something many people think about, however with a little education you can avoid getting stuck with a large bill.

In the case of some mentioned in the World-Herald article, some people transported by an air ambulance may find that outside insurance will cover the trip if regular health insurance does not. Some air ambulance companies have contracts with certain insurance companies. If you are involved in a car accident and have car insurance, it is possible that your car insurance will cover an air ambulance trip to a hospital. Typically car insurance covers all ambulance needs. If you don’t have strong health insurance you should first talk with your car insurance company provider to find out what coverages are available to you.

The World-Herald article also covered a man who had to use an air ambulance and was stuck with the entire bill because the air ambulance company that was used in his rescue was out of his health insurance network. If you are in a serious accident you may not have time to choose the right air ambulance provider. Usually the paramedics will decide to call for air ambulances without regard for your insurance.

But most air ambulance companies will work with you to find a payment plan that is right for you, if you are stuck with the full amount of a bill. Also, you may qualify for special reductions in payments if you can prove you have financial hardships. Other air ambulance companies also offer advanced fees that will cover a certain amount of an air ambulance flight. Annual or monthly fees may be available to help in an emergency situation.

At Travel Care Air we understand that most of the people that we serve have questions about insurance and costs. Our team of professionals have been in the air ambulance business for over three decades now, and we understand the complicated nature of insurance and coming up with a plan to make our services affordable. You can call us anytime to talk about cost and let us know about any concerns you have. For more information and for more guidance through the air ambulance process, like us on Facebook.


Holiday Travel Guide and Tips

holiday-travelThe holidays are in full swing and this time of the year means more people hitting the roads and skies. Millions of people travel all over the country and abroad from now until the beginning of January. If you are one of those people there are several tips to successful holiday travel. Whether you are flying or driving to see your friends and family there are keys to staying safe and making your trip as affordable as possible.

Holiday travel is notorious for stress. You can reduce that stress by avoiding traveling on peak travel dates. Because Christmas and New Year’s Day both fall on Thursdays this year, travel is likely to be more spread out anyways. But it’s always a good bet to avoid travel on the weekend before a big holiday. Most people take time off work and leave on the weekends. If you have a short flight or drive planned, think about leaving on the holiday itself. Leaving on Christmas day means cheaper airline prices and less traffic on the roads.

If you have to drive or fly on a day that you know will be busy with other travelers try to leave early or late in the day. As a rule airports and roads are less congested at times when people would rather be at home or asleep. You are also less likely to encounter flight delays during off-hours. If you fly there is one asterisk with this tip: Staffing is usually low at airports during really early or late flights so still allow extra time for check-in.

If you plan on flying try to book a flight as far in advance as possible. You’ll save on airfare and you’ll have more options. If you can’t leave in an off-peak time give yourself at least an extra hour than you normally would when flying. Arriving at the airport two to three hours before the flight takes off is always a good idea this time of the year.

If you drive, make sure to have your car looked at before you leave. Winter takes it toll on cars so making sure your car is up to par will avoid being trapped in a small town and having to pay later. You should plan alternative routes to your destination as well. Weather and other hazards may shut down your main route, so have a backup plan. You should always have a winter safety kit packed in your car. Kitty litter to help if the car is stuck in snow/ice, blankets in case you break down and need to wait for help, and food are the three big items to pack. Don’t forget about a snow brush (or shovel if you travel in an area that receives a lot of snow), jumper cables and a flashlight.

At Travel Care Air we hope the holiday seasons is festive and safe for you and your family. But if for some reason you need help, our air ambulances are ready to go any time of the day. For more information about our services and for more travel tips, follow us on Twitter.


Air Ambulances and Cancer Travel

air-ambulancesCancer is the most dreaded disease. Fighting the disease is often a difficult fight and making sure you have the best care is key to winning the battle. Air ambulances are often used by cancer patients who are in need of the best possible care. Air ambulances can help in your time of need by taking you where you need to go for the best possible care. Air ambulances can also help you connect with your family and friends to help you in the recovery process.

When battling cancer location is key. In some cases you will need to travel to get the treatment that you prefer. This is especially true if you are trying for a clinical trail that isn’t readily available in your general vicinity. Some trials do have multiple locations, so it is important to research before you pick the first place that you find. Always keep in mind that the more difficult the trial the more you want to find professionals who know what they are doing. Don’t opt for the lowest cost.

If you decide to travel you have a number of air ambulances that can help you. You can look for private air ambulances that will take you to your destination in a private setting. Private air ambulances mean you will be able to be cared for in a controlled environment with staff and pilots that understand your needs. You can also opt for commercial air ambulances. Even people who require oxygen or other medical needs can fly on commercial flights. Typically working with air ambulances professionals will help you book a commercial flight and their staff will accompany you.

Before you make any plans check your insurance to see what it will cover. In some cases part or all of your travel will be covered based on your insurance packages. Insurance can cover air ambulances, hotel stays, hospital stays and more. Always speak with a professional to find out what kind of insurance you have and what benefits are available to you.

At Travel Care Air our air ambulances are ready for you in your time of need. No matter how dark the outlook our air ambulances can help transport you where you need to go so you can have the chance to defeat cancer. For more information about our air ambulances and how they can help you, plus other travel and health information please follow us on Twitter.


Keys to a Healthy Thanksgiving

ID-100119091According to research conducted by the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving just by eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The findings also account for pre or post-meal snacking. Either way, it’s a whopping number, considering that is more than double the calories that most of us need. If you are looking to be healthier this Thanksgiving we have lots of choices for you to make that are light on the waste but big on taste.

One of the best ways to avoid overeating this Thanksgiving is by eating breakfast. Most people skip both breakfast and lunch knowing they will be eating a lot at the dinner table. But experts believe that if you eat a small meal in the morning your appetite will be reduced later in the day and you will eat less as a result. Eating a nutritious breakfast with protein and fiber will curb your desire to pig out later in the day.

There are also lighter options for your Thanksgiving menu. The American Council on Fitness and Nutrition estimates people eat over 220 grams of fat during the Thanksgiving Day meal. You can cut some of that fat by using fat-free chicken broth to make the turkey and gravy. Instead of fat as a thickener use alternatives like corn starch. For snacks, use fat free sour cream for your dips. It also works well as a substitute for butter in mashed potatoes. Reduce butter and oils where you can. You can also look for sugar substitutes in place of sugar. Fruit purees work well instead of pure sugar.

Turkey is the main course at the Thanksgiving Day table for many. Believe it or not, most of the bird is actually pretty healthy. Avoid the skin on the turkey to avoid extra calories and fat. A 3-ounce portion of light meat with no skin has 132 calories with three grams of fat. The fat doubles and calories rise by 30 if you include the skin. Many people prefer darker meat and it does include more minerals than the white meat. Dark meat has about double (15%) of the recommended daily iron intake compared to white meat.

What do you do if you opt for that traditional meal? If you’re on a diet, don’t panic about one day. If you overeat on a consistent basis that is a problem. But over-doing it for one day is not a big deal. Eat lean over the next few days and you will be right back on track. When you are trying to be healthy it can be easy to be hard on yourself. So don’t fret over one day. Remember, stress adds pounds as well!


FAA Sets Date for Air Ambulance Rules

air-ambulanceIt has been said that those working in the air ambulance industry are working in the most dangerous job in the world. Some studies have confirmed this, while other studies have found otherwise. What we do know is our air ambulance staff are always ready to help those in need. An air ambulance mission can take our staff into some really remote areas to rescue someone in need. Now the Federal Aviation Administration is stepping up efforts to help air ambulance professionals stay safe.

Starting on April 22, 2015 new air ambulance rules will go into effect for air ambulance companies. Most of these rules are aimed at helicopters, however key pieces of new rules are aimed at keeping everyone safe. With over 75 air ambulance companies in the United States, counting Travel Care, and over 1,500 helicopters flying around, these new regulations will help pilots better do their jobs.

One key change that will take effect in April has to do with weather. Pilots will now be able to determine whether to take off from sites where weather reports are unavailable. This is especially important for air ambulances that end up in very remote areas. Pilots will now be able to determine if observed visibility and ceiling is greater than the specified minimums and will be able to fly based on those determinations.

The FAA says about 400,000 patients are transported by air ambulance every year. Because these new rules are aimed at helicopters it will greatly improve safety of air ambulance missions that fly at low altitudes. These new rules will help keep patients and staff safer with new technologies like night vision goggles that will assist pilots flying at night.

The FAA’s progress in implementing these rules have led to some debate. These rules were originally set to go into effect this past April, however the FAA decided to push the rules back another year to give air ambulance companies time to adjust. The Office of Inspector General started to look at air ambulance rules and how they would be implemented starting in 2013.

At Travel Care we are always on the look out for ways to keep our patients and staff safe. We welcome input from the FAA, especially their decision to allow pilots to do what is best for all involved during an air ambulance mission.


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