What is a TSA Notification Card?

What is a TSA Notification Card?

The TSA Notification Card allows travelers with disabilities to notify security officials of any issues that may impact a security screening. For disabled travelers, it’s important to know what the card does, how to get it and when to use it. 

The following looks at those issues. This information can help travelers with disabilities in understanding how to use the TSA Notification Card to make travel less difficult for them.

What It Does

The TSA Notification Card allows travelers with disabilities to discreetly inform airport security personal about any medical conditions, disabilities, medical devices on their person or medications that might impact the screening process. It does not mean that travelers with disabilities who hold the card can skip the screening process, as this is still a requirement.

However, the card easily conveys essential information to security personnel. This provides a method for better, clearer communication about the details involving your particular medical situation. 

Those with both a TSA Notification Card and a TSA Pre-Check designation may not need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets during screening.

How To Get It

The TSA provides the TSA Notification Cards to designated disability groups. They also have an online PDF that people can fill in with their specific medical issue, then print out. Some people couple the card with a note from their doctor explaining their condition or the need for a specific medical device.

According to the medical and disabilities page offered by TSA, the card can be used for many different situations. They include sections on:

  • Medications
  • Alzheimer’s, dementia, aphasia or brain injury
  • Autism or intellectual disabilities
  • Blind or low vision
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Use of external medical devices
  • Implants or internal medical devices
  • Mobility disabilities, aids, and devices
  • Prostheses, casts, slings, braces or support appliances
  • Radioactive medication and materials
  • Respiratory equipment
  • Use of service dogs and animals.

When To Use It

The TSA Notification Card should be taken to the airport and presented to a TSA official near the screening area. Again, this does not exclude you from going through screening. But it gives the security officer a quick rundown of whatever issues might come up during the screening.

This especially applies to any liquid medications or medical devices. If you do not wish to go through the screening process, airport officials may have to perform a pat-down that can include removal of shoes, belts or light jackets, according to the TSA.

They also may swab any medical equipment, mobility aids or “other external medical devices” to test for explosives.

In creating the TSA Notification Card, the government is taking steps to make travel easier for those with a disability. It’s a welcome step for those travelers with disabilities who might otherwise have a more challenging time getting through security.

International Travel Checklist: Tips for Traveling Abroad

International Travel Checklist: Tips for Traveling Abroad

International travel is one of the most rewarding types of travel a person can undertake. Visiting other countries, experiencing other cultures, seeing historical sites and eating exotic cuisine are a few of the many pleasures of traveling abroad.

However, as you prepare for international travel, it’s important to keep in mind tips that can lead to a safer, more rewarding experience. Read on to learn some important tips for taking a trip outside of the country.

Before You Leave

Make sure to use the Internet to learn all the details about where you will be traveling, including the best and safest places to stay and any local issues you need to be aware of (some cities in Europe, for example, have areas notorious for pickpockets).

The U.S. State Department advises that people check to see what documents you need in addition to your passport or visa. For example, some over-the-counter medication purchased in the United States may be illegal in other countries and may require you carry documentation.

Many countries may require that your passport is valid for as much as six months after your trip dates, so check on this issue, as well. Take a picture of your passport and put it into your cell phone just to have a digital copy.

Also, check with the State Department to see if there are any travel alerts for any of the places on your itinerary.

Money

Notify your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans so they will not deny any purchases you make. Many banks will allow you to use your debit card in another country. However, check to see what the fees are for foreign ATMs. Depending on the bank or the country, they can get very high.

Travel & Medical Insurance

You’ll want travel insurance to protect your belongings if they get lost. However, you may also want medical travel insurance in case of an accident. Check your current policy to see if it covers the cost of, for example, medical care in another country or medical transportation to a hospital in case of an accident. This is also an area where you want to consider contracting a non-emergency medical transport company, especially if you are traveling abroad and have a disability or chronic medical condition.

Vaccinations

Make sure to get all the required vaccinations for international travel as early as possible. You don’t want to wait until the last moment only to discover that the vaccination is not available in your area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an easy-to-use webpage to determine what shots are required and recommended.

Protect Your Home

You don’t want to be walking down the Champs-Elysees in Paris and suddenly remember that you forgot to have the mail delivery temporarily stopped back at home. Make arrangements well in advance to stop mail, get pets fed and have any chores you need done handled. It’s not a bad idea to have a house sitter or a trusted friend come by and check on your house regularly while you are out of the country.

Your Phone

You can buy a World Phone in advance and use this while traveling. That can be a cheaper alternative to international rates for your cell phone – if your service is even available. However, some cellular providers have good plans for travel, especially in Europe. This is one that will require some legwork to determine which method will work best for you to stay connected.

Quick Travel Hacks

Here are some other travel tips to keep in mind.

Break-in new shoes. The last problem you want is to get blisters on vacation because you are wearing those new travel shoes for the first time.

Pack light. The less you carry, the less you must keep track of at airports, on planes, in taxis, buses and in hotels. Most people overpack, so take the time to toss out things you aren’t sure you will need, especially a lot of extra clothes and shoes.

Also, things people often forget to pack include:

  • Phone charger (bring two)
  • Headphones
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Sweater, even in summer (it gets cold on an overseas flight)
  • Medications

These tips and travel hacks should help you get started on a good trip. Remember, the more planning you do in advance for international travel, the more you can enjoy your trip once you are on it!

How to Travel With A Guide Dog

How to Travel With A Guide Dog

For those who need to travel with a guide dog, getting through the airport and boarding a plane can seem a daunting task. However, there are services available that can help you through the experience, as well as personnel at the airport who are trained to support those with a guide dog.

In the modern world, the need to travel with a guide dog should not keep people from taking a trip they need or want to take. Keep the following steps in mind to ensure that your trip goes well.

Plan Ahead

Organizations such as the Guide Dog Foundation, Inc. will provide demonstrations and practices of what to expect at airport security, so you and your guide dog are fully prepared and confident during the real thing. If you contact TSA Cares 72 hours before a flight, they will also provide you with information on what to expect. TSA Cares can also coordinate a passenger support specialist to help you through the airport.

Picking a Good Day

Early morning flights are often best because they experience the fewest delays. Traveling on Friday can present more challenges as that is most often the busiest day at an airport. Saturdays are usually the lightest day for travel.

Packing for Your Trip

Remember to put your travel-sized liquids in a quart-sized bag, and make sure any electronics larger than a cell phone are easily accessible so you can remove them during screening. Liquids over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through airport security, unless said liquid is medically necessary, though you will have to declare this to the TSA agents at the screening for inspection.

Pack For Your Guide Dog

Make sure to pack a small emergency-size kit for your guide dog. This should include items such as medicine for an upset stomach, hand wipes and paper towels.

Mapping Out the Airports

When you travel with a guide dog, look up the airports you are going to be in to find the pet-friendly areas where you can sit and wait in case there is a flight delay. The website Pet-Friendly Travels provides such a list. Also look for the location of bathrooms, places where you can water or other items, etc.

Packing Dog Meals

Make sure to pack pre-measured meals for your guide dog. They are not prohibited and can be put into resealable plastic bags in your luggage. Make sure to bring a small amount of food and whatever treats are appropriate for your dog in the case of lengthy delays at the airport or on the plane. 

Reserve a Seat

Contact the airline at least one day before departure – the earlier, the better – to secure the seat you need for you and your guide dog. Some prefer to sit against the bulkhead. Airlines that do not allow you to purchase a seat location in advance will allow you to pre-board before the other passengers. Dogs can sit anywhere, as long as no part of their body is in the aisle. In some cases, you may have to ask a fellow traveler to share some of their foot space with your dog – an airline representative can help you in this situation.

Going Through Screening

There is no point during screening at which you will be separated from your guide dog or required to remove your dog’s harness and leash, though your dog may have to go through additional screening if you leave these items on. You will have to remove your jacket, belt, and shoes (unless you have TSA Pre-Check). If you are unable to do so, you will go through additional screening. You may also have to walk through a metal detector or receive a pat-down.

Pat-Down Checks

The pat-down will always be conducted by an officer of the same gender as your present, and they will walk you through the process beforehand. They will ask for permission before touching your guide dog, and you can always request a private screening with a companion of your choice or ask that the officer use a new pair of gloves.

Advocate and Ask for Help

Do not hesitate to ask airport workers, airplane personnel and even fellow passengers for assistance, if needed. Under federal law, airports and airlines must provide accommodations for those with disabilities. And fellow passengers are often far more helpful than you might expect! Also, ask to speak with an airline representative who is designated to work with those who have disabilities if you run into any difficulties anywhere along the process. These are some tips to review before you travel with a guide dog. With the help of those at the airport and your own preparation, it’s a process that can and should go smoothly as the world gets better at supporting those who are differently abled.

Livin The Dream

Livin The Dream

A couple of weeks ago I was walking into my local convenience store to get my morning mug of coffee and almost ran into a man about 20 with a big grin on his face. It could have been one of those joking grins but it looked to me more like the kind that comes from being tickled with oneself. Turns out the young man worked for a Flagger Force, the group that holds up STOP and SLOW signs at construction sites. I have no idea how much money he made doing that work, but when I asked him how things were going, he shouted out: “Livin the Dream!”

Ethic of Hard Work

We Americans are enthralled by the idea of setting ourselves up for a future full of money and influence. We tell our kids that there is no limit to what they can accomplish if they work hard enough. There may be an American here and there unimpressed by the idea of partying with Bill and Melinda Gates or the Trumps at Mar a Lago, but most of us would jump at the chance. We pride ourselves on our ethic of hard work and believe almost religiously the myth that the sky is the limit.

But deeper down most of us understand that however much we may sing about having lots of land under starry skies above, we actually are, despite what the song says, to some degree fenced in. Has any one of us not had the experience of working so hard reaching for the skies that after a time our world starts to empty out. We begin to lose touch with our partners, our children, our capacity for enjoyment, even nature itself. 

Unplug & Reconnect

“Look out the window or step outside for a bit “

Nevertheless, I admire the work ethic, which has made America the energetic and innovative country it remains. But when we have a few minutes to spare and are so afraid to use them to stop, reflect, or breathe that we feel compelled instead to re-check our smartphones, we overdo that ethic. Using the phone has then become an addiction, not a choice. At such times I try to remind myself to look out the window or step outside for a bit so I can reconnect with a world that can never again be exactly the same as it is right at that moment. It is a precious world, well worth taking the time necessary to notice it.

And so again, as the old song says, let us, by all means, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, and only then go back to work again.

This blog article was written by Flying Angels Corporate Ethicist Ronald Wendling. In addition to his posts here, his thoughts can be found on his own blog page Keeping up with Ron.

What Is Critical Care Travel?

What Is Critical Care Travel?

Critical care travel involves having medical personnel on hand when you make a trip. It can include air ambulances used for emergency transport and non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) for travelers who want the security of having a nurse with them during a flight.

It’s an increasingly popular option to use critical care travel while making a long trip by plane for a vacation or to visit a specialist doctor. Having a travel nurse along for a trip ensures that a patient’s health is in good hands.

Who Uses Critical Travel Care?

Critical care travel is something used by those who suffer from a chronic illness or those who have been injured. In either case, they may have difficulty with their mobility. A travel nurse (sometimes called a flight nurse) offers support by helping patients with their travel arrangements, moving through often congested airports and getting onboard the plane.

They also ensure that the patient has all the medicine they need, as well as any important medical devices. Travel nurses are trained in critical care travel and understanding the variables created by treating someone while thousands of feet in the air.

NEMT is an air ambulance alternative. It’s helpful to know the differences. An air ambulance is typically staffed by emergency medical personnel and used to transport people from the site of an accident or natural disaster to the nearest medical facility. 

This is a far cry from NEMT and critical care travel.

The Advantages of Critical Travel Care

There are many advantages for those who choose to use these kinds of services. Using Flying Angels’ service as an example, these are some of the factors that lead people to hire critical care nurses.

  • NEMT service is available for trips on commercial airlines anywhere in the world
  • A flight coordinator handles all the reservations for your trip
  • An experienced flight nurse accompanies you on your trip, ensuring your health and safety
  • Flight nurses have years of experience in emergency room settings and are schooled in the details of providing in-flight medical care

There also are many advantages for NEMT as an alternative to air ambulances. Because you can get NEMT services on a commercial flight, you can also avoid the high costs of using a private flight. Also, everything is planned in advance, from dealing with items such as wheelchairs to coordination of the boarding process. Critical care travel with a travel nurse is a smart way to get the care you need while you travel. When looking for alternatives to an air ambulance, it’s an option worth considering.

Medical Repatriation vs Evacuation: What’s The Difference?

Medical Repatriation vs Evacuation: What’s The Difference?

People buying travel insurance should know the difference between medical repatriation and medical evacuation. Evacuation typically refers to the services needed to transport a patient in an emergency, while repatriation typically refers to transportation back home for recovery or rehab after emergency services have been done in another country or state.

Medical repatriation usually involves foreign travel, while evacuation can happen anywhere. In either case, insurance helps cover the cost.

It’s important to know the difference between trip & travel insurance. Keep in mind that both areas are separate from typical travel insurance, which covers issues such as lost baggage, canceled flights and some medical costs.

Medical Evacuation

A medical evacuation happens after someone has been injured in a natural disaster or accident. Medical evacuations involve transportation to the nearest emergency medical services available.

Evacuation can also include transferring a patient from one medical facility to another if specialized care is needed and only available at the second facility. Typically, medical evacuations involve the use of fixed-wing aircraft or air ambulances. Also, trained medical personnel are involved.

Medical evacuation coverage will take care of the cost of the transportation itself, but not the medical bills. That needs to be covered by your insurance provider or from your own pocket. However, it will cover the costs of emergency transport, which can reach high levels – as much as $25,000 to $250,000 in some cases.

Medical Repatriation

Medical repatriation differs from medical evacuation in significant ways. Medical repatriation is needed to cover the cost of returning home from a foreign country.

If you are traveling in France and get into an accident that requires emergency medical services, then you might have the insurance needed to cover the emergency transportation to a hospital and getting the needed medical work done. But then comes the question: How are you going to pay to get home?

Medical repatriation insurance will cover these costs. Another difference is that a medical repatriations trip may not involve medical personnel, depending on the condition of the patient and their ability to handle long-distance travel.

The usual case is that medical repatriation involves non-emergency medical travel (NEMT). That allows patients to find a company that provides comprehensive NEMT services.

Medical repatriation is also a term used by insurance companies to refer to the transfer of your remains back to your home in the event of your death.

By the way, this doesn’t have to be travel outside of the country. It could also include trying to get back from a vacation in Las Vegas to your home in Pennsylvania. Those are some of the key differences between medical evacuation and medical repatriations. It’s a smart move to have a clear understanding of both before purchasing any insurance for your upcoming trip.