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Author Topic: First airplane trip on PD  (Read 4531 times)
JenOfCA
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« on: May 30, 2013, 06:30:15 PM »

 :sos; Next week I will be going on my first airplane trip since starting PD. I have previously traveled on PD but it's been by car. I am nervous about packing all my stuff, getting through security, lugging my cycler and crossing my fingers that my Baxter delivery arrives at my hotel. Are there any experienced travelers out there that can share any tips or have advice? I'm not sure if I should pack all of my stuff, cassettes, disinfectant, gauze, tape, etc...and check it with my luggage or box it up and mail it usps to my hotel in Hawaii. Has anyone traveled to Maui with the Cycler? Any issues, advice, help? Thanks everyone, I can't wait to get to Maui but all of this is making it a little bit stressful!
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justme15
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 07:08:21 PM »

well I haven't traveled to Maui, but i've traveled to Virginia recently.  All went well! My cycler went through security without any problems, although they did swab it for chemicals I guess?  my husband lugged it through the airport, but for our next trip we bought a dolly to carry the cycler through the airport. I was able to board the plane early because I told the gate agent that I have a dialysis machine and I want to make sure i can secure a good overhead space. My boxes were delivered to the hotel on time.  The hotel couldn't find them at first, but eventually they found them and everything was fine.  I packed my cassettes, minicaps, flexicaps, ect in my luggage.  but we were only gone for 4 days.  If you are vacationing for a long period of time,  you may want to consider boxing things up.
My husband and I will be going to Las Vegas in a few months, so I am expecting everything to be fine with this trip as well.
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JenOfCA
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 07:28:15 PM »

Thanks! We will be gone for 10 days so I have a lot of stuff to pack, those cassettes take up a lot of space and all the gauze too! Again, I'm nervous that if I ship the box to the hotel ahead of time what happens if it gets lost? I already called the hotel to tell them that there would be a delivery of 9 boxes and they were great, they will put them in storage for me until I get there, wow, all this worrying, I'm going to need a vacation AFTER my vacation!! :-)
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Joe
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2013, 07:29:41 PM »

I traveled from Colorado Springs to Orlando with all my PD stuff and had no problems. The airline took my container of dialysis supplies as a 'medical box' and was not counted as part of my luggage. I hand carried my cycler through security as well as a carry bag with a manual bag. TSA swabbed the manual bag and honored me with a full body check, but that was the extent of anything at checkin. At the gate I notified the gate agent that I was a dialysis patient traveling with my machine and they put me in the pre-board group. That let me get on board early and find a spot in the overhead for my cycler. When we got to Orlando, all of my fluids were waiting for me at checkin. All in all, it went about as smoothly as it could have. The key thing is make sure you communicate what you have and what you need and things will go fine. Have a great trip to Maui! It's a great place to vacation.
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JenOfCA
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2013, 07:38:03 PM »

Thank you Joe - I have traveled to Maui as a "normal" person, a transplant person, a hemo patient and now a PD patient, I love Maui it's a beautiful place, it makes me forget about all of my problems! Reading your posts makes me feel a little bit better. Did you pack your supplies into a suitcase or did you box them up?
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Emerson Burick
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2013, 08:05:31 PM »

Next week I will be going on my first airplane trip since starting PD. I have previously traveled on PD but it's been by car. I am nervous about packing all my stuff, getting through security, lugging my cycler and crossing my fingers that my Baxter delivery arrives at my hotel. Are there any experienced travelers out there that can share any tips or have advice?

I've traveled a bit with my cycler. The first thing is to stop crossing your fingers about stuff getting there and manage it. Call the hotel and ensure the fluid arrived before you leave. If you decide to UPS your other stuff, make sure that arrived too. You should know before you leave that the stuff is there. (You should also have an info packet of where to go just in case something awful happens.)

Getting through security is straightforward. Leave yourself plenty of time and just say that you because of medical hardware that's designed to be seen on scans, you need a manual pat-down. Ask for the private room, be nice to the TSA folks, and think of England. They'll probably make you open your cycler case and want to swab it. Just keep saying "dialysis machine" and they'll finish what they need to do and let you go.

You can try to get early boarding, but I find it's usually not worth the hassle. The only problem is that the wheel-bag folks will have taken up all of the overhead bins. Happily, the cycler fits under your seat. If they try to convince you to gate check it, just keep repeating the words "medical equipment" and dialysis machine." I also bring a set of wheels and manage to cram them in somewhere.

Oh, and to ensure that you don't have problems forgetting stuff, make a checklist of what to pack well in advance so you have plenty of time to think of what you should add. I'm a checklist fanatic, and the following is my tried-and-true checklist for my dialysis stuff. I just change the values of N for the number of days and night I'm traveling, so for example this is for my last 4-day, 4-night trip. I always bring home extra caps at the end, but I'd rather have too many than too few. Oh, and the trash bags are for me to put my empty bags in. I try to keep things clean and simple for the housekeeping staff to take away.

- [ ] Dialysis Gear
    - [ ] Dialysis information packet
    - [ ] General
        - [ ] Hand cleaner
        - [ ] Paper towels
        - [ ] Scissors
        - [ ] Tape
        - [ ] Exchange sheet & pen
    - [ ] Day exchange x N (4)
        - [ ] N bags of daytime fluid
        - [ ] 2N minicaps
        - [ ] Carabiner
        - [ ] Small tote bag
        - [ ] 3 clips
        - [ ] Spring scale
    - [ ] Night Cycler exchange x N (4)
        - [ ] N boxes of fluid (25% Y, 75% G)
        - [ ] N cassettes
        - [ ] N drain bags
        - [ ] 2N + 1 Flexi caps
        - [ ] 2N Minicaps
        - [ ] N Trash bags
        - [ ] Cycler & power cord,  grounded-plug adapter & case
        - [ ] Wheels

Good luck. Have fun!
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amanda100wilson
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2013, 08:52:09 PM »

pack everything medical in one case, with nothing else in the case, then it flys for free (they cannot charge as it is essential medical equipment).  Ask to speak to Complaints Resolution Officer to resolve any disputebanout this, should the need arise.  They cannot vharge for the cyclerbithet and neither of these itms are partnof our allowance, either checkable or carry on.  They arevadditional to this.

Get it noted ahead of time on your booking  that you will be flying with cycler

Ask to gate check cycler (unless you have he hard case it should only bebgate checked or crried on if there is space.

Clean cycler down with alcohol beforehand.  I think that it is iodine from the caps that you putnon catheter that gives falseositive forvexplosive when they swab machine which they routinely do.

Allow extra time o go through security

If you are darrying cycler, or otherwise, suggest you ask for wheelchair help to gate.  This fast-tracks you through security.  You can also pre-board plane and also get assistance with carrying your cycler

Phone Baxter ahead of delivery and adk when supplies are due to be delivered.  phone again to confirm delivery after jis date has passed.

Phonehotel to check that boxes are delivered and find out where they will be stored.  sometimes the person on duty when you arrive may mot know. 

Do not allow them to charge you for storage of boxes and if they do, make sure charges are reversed (you should not becharged for storage of medical supplies)
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ESRD 22 years
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Healthy people may look upon me as weak because of my illness, but my illness has given me strength that they can't begin to imagine.

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Joe
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2013, 08:14:04 AM »

Jen, I pack my supplies in a rubbermaid 18 gallon tub. It has handles that I can use to strap the lid down tight and I use it to hold my drain bag from the cycler at night just in case there is a leak  :pray; I keep only my medical supplies in the tub so it is exempt from tariffs - that is per the ADA. Do call ahead and let the airline know what is going on and that you will be traveling with your cycler. Again, communication is key to having things go smoothly.
 
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JenOfCA
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2013, 08:38:26 AM »

Wow great info from everyone!! Thanks so much for all the tips and advice, I'm feeling better about this now  :thx;
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amanda100wilson
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 12:27:23 PM »

Joe what a great idea.
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ESRD 22 years
  -PD for 18 months
  -Transplant 10 years
  -PD for 8 years
  -NxStage since October 2011
Healthy people may look upon me as weak because of my illness, but my illness has given me strength that they can't begin to imagine.

Always look on the bright side of life...
bevvy5
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2013, 12:53:38 PM »

I personally found it helpful to call the hotel, explain the situation and ask to speak to someone in management.  I would take that person's name and number and let them know that I would be using them as a contact person for Baxter and such.  Then would call a few days ahead to confirm with (this person) that all was in order, etc.  Don't be shy to ask for what you want as far as accomodations, close to the elevator, close to the pool, whatever works.  We had great people and would get to the hotel to find that our boxes had been taken to our room in advance and stacked in the bedroom.

Other than that, echo what everybody else says.  Confirm with your flight reservations that you request assistance.  IF you are parking a car or coming from a hotel shuttle to the airport let them know that you an "ADA" person and they will drop you off at curbside so you can check our checked luggage with the sky porters as opposed to schlepping it from wherever.  They will arrange for a wheelchair which will definitely fast track you through security.

Check in with the gate attendant when you get to your flight gage  Be polite but firm.  The only issue we had was they wanted to gate check Greg's cycler.  We firmly and politely said, no, it cannot be banged around as  a gate checked item, it MUST accompany us in the cabin.  They found a spot for it in a first class closet.  If you need a person to help with your stuff, just tell them that, and they will accomodate you.

Check with your unit if you don't have a carrying case, our unit had two and we could just request one ahead of time and use it.  It was like a wheeled type suitcase.

Oh, and I also made sure to have a letter signed by Greg's doctor for his stuff, like preloaded epo syringes which we had to take in our carry on with an ice pack, which normally wouldn't be allowed.  It basically just said that he had to have his cycler, bags of fluid, etc.  We always made sure to have a few bags in case we got stuck somewhere and he had to do manual exchanges for an overnight.  Not as many as he normally would do but at least a few.

We were only able to take two trips while Greg was on PD, one from the west coast to Florida and one to Vegas, but the pre-trip worrying that all was going to go well was worse than the reality!!  Have fun.
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Riki
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2013, 09:42:15 PM »

the one thing that I cannot stress enough is to make sure that the cycler is clean.  They WILL swab it for chemicals/explosives, and even a trace amount of betadine on the swab will give you a false positive for explosives.  It happened to me when I was traveling home from NYC.  I was stopped at security in Halifax, NS, which was the last stop before getting home in Charlottetown, and they got a positive for nitro on my cycler.  They patted me down, checked all my pockets, sent my jacket through the xray machine, whatever they could think of.  We came very close to missing that last flight.  At least it was only a 4 hour drive from home.  Someone could have come and picked us up.

Also DO NOT fly Air Canada.  They have a stick up their butt about what's allowed as carry on, even if it is medical equipment.  We were forced to check my cycler the last time we flew with it.  On the way home, they turned it upside down and put something heavy on top of it, even though there were fragile stickers all over the case.  The cassette door was broke on the machine, and the case was badly damaged as well.  They repaired the case, but refused to pay for the repair of the cycler
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blondie1746
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 12:45:06 PM »

Here's my experiences:  I always take the machine onboard with me.  I have a Baxter Pro-choice cycler and it comes with a soft-sided carrier.  It will not fit under most airplane seats, if they have a divider between each seat.  On small CRJ-regional jets, there is not divider and we have put it there because their overhead bins are so small.  But, I almost always pre-board so I don't have to worry about finding overhead space.  I pack all of my cartridges, caps, etc. in my carry-on or checked luggage.  But, always pack 1 cartridge and some caps with the machine.  On one trip, my checked bag didn't make it on the same day, and I had all my supplies in it, so I wasn't able to do dialysis that night.  Lesson learned!  The cartridges do take up a lot of room.  If my husband has a little extra room in his bag, I will put some in there! 

Remember to take an "emergency" cap, the kind you would use if you were going to briefly un-hook from the machine (like to go to the bathroom) and then re-hook up.  Handy if there is an emergency, or fire-alarm goes off in hotel.  And extra mini-caps, in case you drop one on the floor, etc.

Sometimes they wipe down my machine at security, sometimes they don't.  I do have a letter from my Dr. that I always carry with me about the machine being medically necessary.  And my PD catheter has never set off an alarm going through security and I've never been patted down.

And so far, I've had no problems with shipping supplies to family or hotels for our trips.  I wish Baxter had a tracking system for us to use, but I have them arrive at least 1 day early, and I call the hotel to verify they arrived.

Overall, travelling is easy.  The machine is heavy to lug around, but we bought a small folding luggage cart that works just fine.  So, don't sweat it too much and have a great trip!!
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JenOfCA
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 12:55:56 PM »

Thanks again everyone!! I've got my checklist ready, my extra suitcase packed with all of my supplies, I will call the hotel on Thursday to make sure my baxter order arrived, I think I'm ready and can't wait for Friday! I will have to update you all after my trip to let you know how it went. Thanks so much and Aloha!  :flower;
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