Airplane Travel with NxStage

Hello everyone,

I don’t believe I have read any threads that specifically talked about the logistics of airplane travel with the NxStage machine. I am scheduling my first flight, and it has proven to be challenging.

  1. The box that is provided by NxStage will not fit in my car. I am going to have to bungee the box in the trunk and then assemble the machine in the box when I arrive at the airport.

2.) Finding a transport company that can transport the machine (oversized and overweight) to/from the hotel seems almost impossible. I have so far found one company that can transport it for $80 each way.

So far my costs have been: $100/ each way for airline oversized baggage.
plus possibly another $200 (rounded up) for transport to/from the hotel.
I did not have much luck with any airline having pity on me and waiving the fee. $400 total and climbing…

Yikes. I am not renting a car, so that isn’t a transport option. Do any of my dialysis friend have suggestions or helpful hints on how to transport the machine?

What about a scale? Did anyone bring one from home? I am looking into if there is one at the hotel.

Other lessons I have learned:

  1. I also learned that ancillary supplies should be shipped at least a week ahead of time because of the cost, but some hotels will not accept packages more than a day before arrival, so planning is a key aspect. I now will have to transport these items in my suitcase. Ugh, saline is heavy (collectively!).
  2. The Skycap curbside are extremely helpful, and necessary so I don’t have to lug my baby through the terminal.

I look forward to thoughts, comments and suggestions!!

An SUV or pickup truck will do the trick…How about a Humvee… :smiley: …I did take my scale with me…

…keep in mind, reserve a hotel that has an elevator or at least reserve a room on 1st floor… and be sure it has handicap parking space…

Btw, how long is this vacation?

Funny. Yikes. I am 5’2" I would probably have to figure out how to step up into the Humvee… hehe.

I will be away for a week on work duty. (I WISH it was a vacation!)

Hybrid, Yes!

I don’t want to say what I do exactly, but I can tell you I manage national grants to not for profit organizations, and I have to perform a lot of compliance and technical and training assistance visits. I really travel no more than three weeks a year for work.

This is my first airplane trip with the NxStage. Previously, I was on nocturnal, and since there aren’t many center’s offering in-center nocturnal, I would just look for a center before travelin.

If I compare the hassle of finding a center vs. bringing the machine along- I feel more personal stress because the ownership of planning is more on me, BUT with that all said, I am soo happy I can finally attend a whole conference, meetings, and other work AND LEISURE events. YAY. I do look forward to dialyzing in a hotel room. I just hope I have a great view so I can keep the curtains open.

If you were to ask me is it worthwhile bringing the machine? YES. Is it convienent? Somewhat, probably will be more so as I get used to the process.

Next month I will be traveling back home to NY, so I will be able to compare air transport to car transport.

I am creating a few checklists I can use before starting off on a trip. I will share once I am happy with them. After my trip I will probably write up a list of tips and post them online.

Hi Headbandgirl–sorry about the “SPAM!” in your message. If you replace a letter in that word (whatever it was) with an asterisk, we’ll still be able to read it. In an effort to try to get rid of some of the more heinous spam messages, I’ve designated a bunch of words to be replaced, trying not to include “legitimate” ones–and obviously that’s not a perfect system…

That was funny. It should read National Gr*nts.

Thanks! I figured out what the word was and fixed it. :smiley:

I would LOVE that car!!! I am staying at a Sheraton hotel in Seattle. I called the concierge today to find out if the hotel had a scale. She called me back and said that “yes, they did.” Housekeeping will be bringing it to my room right after I check in!!! That made me so happy.

Sooo…good tips:

1.) The concierge is your friend, and can help with most anything…even before the trip.
2.) Call the concierge to see if they have weight scales in the hotel or available for in-room use.

Mmmmm. I REALLY hope I do get a good view. I can see it now…surfing the internet on my laptop, while watching free HBO, eating room service…all with the curtains open looking over the city. Top of the world, I tell ya. I almost think it could be a commercial for home hemo!!!

I will take pictures!

headbandgrrl

[/quote] :smiley:

The Sheraton is a nice hotel - try for a high floor but being downtown your view may get blocked by another building.

Maybe there is a reason why this wouldn’t work but could not/should not there be a way for you to stop by the Northwest Kidney Centers, which is walking distance from the Sheraton (well less than 20 blocks…I like to walk) pick up a machine and return it after your stay?

It seems like the finances would work the same, NKC would bill you/your insurance like any other visitor, you’d have a local renal resource (NKC is already any visitor’s resource but as an official visitor you could get quick 24/7 support) and you’d avoid the whole transport issue.

I think that’s a swift marvelous idea… 8)

I think that’s a swift marvelous idea… 8)[/quote]

Hi, All! this is Pavani. I recently joined this website. I am planning a trip to Canada with NxStage end of July. I spoke to the airlines (American) Disability coordinator yesterday. She was very nice and informed me that I can check in the machine and whatever boxes I need of fluid etc with no charge. These will be in addition to my allowed baggage. She said that since dialysis is a medical necessity they will allow everything that is required. I do not even need a letter from the doc, but I can have one, just in case.
My suggesstion would be if anyone is planning to fly, please make sure you call the airlines and ask for their disability coordinator.

Hi y’all,

Headbandgirl wrote:

Finding a transport company that can transport the machine (oversized and overweight) to/from the hotel seems almost impossible. I have so far found one company that can transport it for $80 each way.

After seeing this thread, I decided to do some research and write a “Topic of the Month” article on air travel with home dialysis (cyclers and NxStage) that will come out this week. In the meantime, I’ve learned some things that will help you. First of all, you don’t need a special transport company to move your teeny little NxStage machine. We have a display booth for the Medical Education Institute that is 38 inches tall by 24 inches wide, by 15 inches deep. It weighs just under 70 lbs., and we just toss it in the trunk of a regular taxi. It takes up the whole trunk, but it does fit. And if that fits, the NxStage will, too. If nothing else, it can go on the back seat. I usually tip $10 if someone has to put it into the trunk or take it out without help (only one taxi driver hasn’t been able to do that), and $5 if they do it with help.

So far my costs have been: $100/ each way for airline oversized baggage…I did not have much luck with any airline having pity on me and waiving the fee.

Good news: The airlines have been told by the U.S. Department of Transportation (which oversees air travel) that they should not charge for extra bags or overweight items when they are Assistive Devices. Per the D.O.T. “Assistive Device: Any piece of equipment that assists a passenger with a disability in carrying out a major life activity. Assistive devices are those devices or equipment used to assist a passenger with a disability in caring for himself or herself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, walking, or performing other functions of daily life. Assistive devices may include medical devices, medications, and bags or cases used to carry them.”

My advice is:
Use one of the five airlines that told me over the phone that they will not charge a fee: American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, and U.S. Airways
Get to the airport early
Tell them at the counter when you check in that your machine is an “Assistive Device” under 14 CFR Part 382
Ask for a supervisor if the counter person isn’t familiar with why they should not charge you for assistive devices
Offer to call the Department of Transportation’s complaint number (800-778-4838) if there is a problem :twisted:

Note: The airlines should not charge you for a day or two worth of dialysate, either, but more than that will probably cost you.

When the Topic of the Month article is done, I’ll post the URL to this thread.

Dori, sweeeet! :smiley:

That info is gonna be fantastic!

NxStage has a cart just like a collapsible airline luggage cart with an attached heavy fabric “suitcase” sized to hold the NxStage machine. I have seen it but not used it. It should be perfect for toting the machine between terminals, cabs, hotels, etc.

I put the machine (without any box) in the backseat of our car and fasten it in place with the seat belt. This should also work with cabs, etc.

Mel

Hi y’all,

I told you that I’d give you the URL when the new Topic of the Month article on air travel is done–and it is! You can find it at: http://www.homedialysis.org/v1/rotating/0606topicofthemonth.shtml. I was able to find the regulation that said airlines are not allowed to charge for “Assistive Devices” (including portable dialysis machines), and quoted the section in the article. So, this should be a useful piece to bring along to the airport, in case the counter agent tries to assess fees for extra or overweight luggage.

Incidentally, you can find our other “Topic of the Month” articles under the News & Updates menu bar on the left side of each page.

Thanks Dori, many of us will benefit from that article… :smiley:

Dori- You ROCK! This information is invaluable. Unfortunately, I DID have the CFR with me and it didn’t help.

The trip itself was great, and I was surprised with the attentiveness of hotel staff. The bellhop helped with unpacking the machine. He even found me a box cutter!

Two of my “lesson’s learned” is that I should call the airline and ask for the disability coordinator (as a writer above mentioned). I did call the airline beforehand speaking with a cs rep. who wasn’t “in the know.” This misinformation was apparent all the way to the ticket agent at the check in… and…don’t call the dialysis machine a “dialysis machine” explain that it is an “life saving assistive device because your/his/her kidneys do not work.” whew!

I had a copy of the CFR with me at the airport. Unfortunately, the airline ticket agent was not so savvy, and quickly led me to tears for multiple reasons- charges, not knowing what a CFR was, not knowing the airline’s accomodation policy…and a few other issues.

I am going to call the airline on Monday. If I am unable to receive a satisfactory answer regarding the agent’s service, I will file a complaint.

Because I am in a hurry, I haven’t provided you all with a very good illustration of the trip- but it was a comedy, a tragedy, and a sitcom rolled all into one. There is way too much we have left to do to make this world accessible to all. (GRRRRR. The activist in me has been activated!)

I encountered one other unexpected charge- the hotel charged me $110 for “package handling” for the therapy fluid and cartridges- (apx 15 boxes)- which arrived on a pallate (sp?).

When I have more time, I will add a link to a photo of the machine in the hotel, and a few updates…hopefully next week when I have more time…

A few highlights…

*The box/machine fit in the trunk of a Lincoln Towncar!(sorry, will not be trading in my Mitsubishi anytime soon, but good to know!) Cabbies will usually NOT lift over a certain weight. Find out in advanced what their weight limit is, and plan accordingly (hence my $70 fee). If a rental car is not an option, and you are able to travel to/from airport to hotel on a shuttle with a lift, you may be able to save $$$. (The lift on one of the shuttle’s I used was broken- not fun.)

*I felt like I had the most posh dialysis treatment of my life- room service, hotel room, and TV/Internet with a GREAT view (from 2nd hotel- long story).

*I did not feel wiped out or have to worry about treatments during my long work hours- and could actually focus on work!

*I would travel with my NxStage again.

:cry:

Headbandgrrl, you really did it… :shock: …you must be one touch lady there!

Glad everything worked out okay for you, not smoothly the first time but I guess that’s normal for most of us. The 2nd trip should be alot better. I can see the key to success is knowledge/education beforehand…preparedness!

Thanks for sharing your experience, its a great life saver! Can’t wait for your pics… :smiley: