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Advice for flying with medical supplies? IV saline, pump, tubing etc


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#1 Tap

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:25 AM

DD will be flying with 5 liters (11 pounds) of saline and all the pump supplies and tubing needed for 5 separate infusions.  It is probably 15 llbs all together. They are leaving SOCal and goint to Hawaii for 

 

We have a TSA approved wheeled carry on that will fit it all.  The IVs should be refrigerated but don't have to be (can be out for a total of 24 hours).   We would like to send them with at least a couple ice packs to help keep them cool in case of an emergency.   The tubing will be the equivalent of 3 gallon size zipper bags.  They are flying Alaska airlines 

 

The bag will be heavy due to the liquid so I don't know if it can be lifted into the overhead bin. If guess if it is a problem, they may ask if they can just gate check the bag. We need to verify if the liquid would be safe stored that way due to pressure changes.  Her IV bags are sealed, but they have the air removed.  I am guessing that this would be a benefit, but don't know for sure. 

 

Her port (under the skin on her upper chest) has a small amount of titanium.  She has a small card in her wallet that lists the medical device numbers if TSA needs to verify it. 

 

 

Dh has TSA pre-check, but she doesn't.  I don't think there is time to get her cleared before the trip but we might try just in case we can get it done. Is it worth the $85 to go thru this step?

 

I found the TSA blue card on line, but I don't know that it actually means anything since you can just print them at home.

 

I know we need doctors notes for the supplies, but what needs to be on the letter? 

 

Dh used to travel for work.  He has flown more that 100 times, so he is used to navigating airports and such.  

 

 

Thanks in advance!!!  

 


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#2 Lanny

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:45 AM

I don't know the answers to the questions you have. I suggest that you study the Alaska Airlines website to see if you can find anything about this type of thing. Also the TSA website. Then contact them. Preferably by web Chat or a special phone number. Is the carry on bag small enough to go under the seat in front of your DD? I would not suggest that it be Gate Checked or that it not be inside the passenger cabin or the cockpit. The life of your DD is dependent on the contents of the carry on bag. I don't think it should be in the overhead bin but that would be better than it being gate checked. investigate thoroughly with Alaska Airlines and with TSA. I hope she has a wonderful trip! Aloha

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#3 Melissa in Australia

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:17 AM

Is it possible to contact the airline directly and get advice from them?
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#4 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:40 AM

I agree with everyone else to give the airline a call.  Having said that:

 

We travel regularly with less, but still essential, medical supplies.  My dh carries an epi-pen and a small pharmacy's worth of allergy and asthma medications with him on each flight.  We also travel with specialized foot orthotics/braces for two of my kids with clubfeet.  These braces are made of steel.  All of this comes in the cabin with us.  I absolutely would NOT gate check or in any other way check essential medical equipment!!!  A good crew would probably offer to put your dd's bag in the crew's storage area if it won't go overhead.  But I suggest that instead, she carry a smaller folding bag inside her larger bag that can divide the load if necessary so that most of it can go overhead.  

 

Your doctor's letter should just list briefly the material being carried on and that it is medically necessary that it be with the patient at all times.  If you feel it could be helpful for any strange looking materials, you can attach an image of the item to the letter.  I do this for my kids' foot braces.  Ideally, she should also have an extra prescription with her in case by some accident items get damaged or stolen.  This should be carried separately from her equipment, obviously.  

 

Very probably, the liquid would be safe in cargo if the bags are sealed without air inside.  HOWEVER, I would NOT DO THIS!!!  

 

Now that I've said all that, I will say that we have never, ever been asked to present any of these letters.  Even the kids' metal foot braces pass without comment through the scanning machines at security.  But it's always better to be prepared.  

 

 


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#5 Melissa in Australia

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:30 AM

My fil had some minor trouble traveling to Aus from Canada because he had a steel rod in his leg. He had trouble while in US transit. Even with a medical certificate and even though he was in his 80s. When he started to pull his pants down to show the scar they let him through.
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#6 insertcreativenamehere

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:20 AM

We flew last year with a feeding pump and tube feeding supplies, formula, nebulizer equipment and medications, as well as an epi-pen and other miscellaneous equipment. I was nervous, but it was actually very easy; I had everything in two bags and they inspected those particular bags carefully. We did not have Pre Check but just got to the airport earlier than usual. 


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#7 dmmetler

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:46 AM

I will say, though-if you fly even a couple of times in an average year out of reasonably busy airports, pre-check is worth it. I don't know if it helps for medical, but just being able to move to the shorter, less stressed line makes a big difference in the large airports. In small ones, it still expedites the process.
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#8 Lanny

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:51 AM

When I was very young, I worked for 2 U.S. Flag airlines.  I would NOT just show up at the airport for the flights and hope that everything goes well.   I would try to pre arrange this with the airline, in this case, Alaska Airlines. Possibly with a special office in their HQ.   Any bag that weighs approximately 15 pounds should be in a closet or cabinet or bin that is secure.  If there is a closet or cabinet, either inside the Passenger cabin, or, in the Cockpit, where this bag can be stored, by the crew, that would be the best case.  As someone above mentioned, contingent plans should always be in place, in case something terrible happens and your DD is separated from the bag..  I believe your DD should ask to be "Pre Boarded", before each flight departure.   

 

This is NOT something that your DD should show up with at the Departure Gates and hope that everything will go fine from that point on. It probably would go fine, but when an aircraft is in Departure processing, it can be bedlam.   

 

This is  the Alaska Airlines phone numbers page on their web site:

https://www.alaskaai...ne-numbers.aspx

 

Note: I might begin by calling the top number on the above URL, which is Reservations/Customer Service, to see what kind of help, if any, I received from the Agent.  This requires Special Services which need to be in the PNR (Passenger Name Record) in the Reservations system, so the Gate Agent will (hopefully) know in advance there is a passenger who needs special help on those flights and what to do.

 

After that, I would probably call their HQ and ask to be directed to the Department or person that helps passengers with special medical equipment aboard the aircraft and where it can be stored, in the Passenger Cabin or Cockpit. 

 

Before doing that, I would have the exact dimensions of the Carry On bag you plan to use for this and weigh the bag with the contents inside as they will be for the flights before calling.

 

Remember "Murphy's Law".   Probably, everything will go perfectly, without any issue, but if it doesn't, your DD needs Contingency Plans.


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#9 Pam in CT

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:32 AM

What Monica said, basically:  Check first with both TSA and the airline as to exactly what they need to see; then draft the letter for the doctor to sign that lists exactly what your daughter needs to carry.  Get to the airport very very early and if the checkin for the flight is not yet open, go to the  airline's "special services" kind of desk so they can allow the passengers to go through security first and thereafter check in at the gate.


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#10 Annie G

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:32 AM

We've never traveled with medical stuff but I fly into/out of both large airports and small and I often see people bringing medical stuff on and I ALWAYS hear them say they have a doctor's note and not one time have I seen a TSA agent ask to see the note.  They just go through the stuff to make sure there's not other forbidden stuff in there...like maybe a gun or something...and the passengers are on their way. 

 

Don't gate check your stuff. Since it's medical, they won't expect you to.  As long as it's in a container that meets the requirements to fit in overhead bins, someone can help get it in there. 

 

With dh along, I think your dd will be fine.  I wouldn't expect more than a few extra minutes to get through the TSA screening.  

 

Hope the trip goes well!


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#11 Ali in OR

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:18 AM

I would suggest allowing extra time to go through security. We've never had a problem with dd, but it does take us longer to get through. They hand check her bag of meds, wand check her wheelchair, female employee pats her down, etc. TSA has always been very courteous but it does take a little longer to get through the actual check. And when we show up with the wheelchair, they often wave us through the side line for employees, but just the checking everything takes longer.


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#12 cera2

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:12 PM

There is no way I would gate check needed medical supplies or equipment.  

 

I would ask your doctor for a note indicating the condition she has and the necessity of the medical supplies and equipment she is carrying.  I would also request a note indicating that the doctor recommends pre-boarding for her.  This would allow her to get settled onto the plane and ensure there is no issue with finding space for her carry-on with the medical supplies/equipment.  Finally, I would probably request that the doctor list any supplies that are liquid (such as the prefilled saline IV's) on a prescription.  Liquids are the only thing I can really see them giving you a hard time about and if they are prescribed that should reduce the chance of their being an issue.


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#13 Nemom

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:36 PM

We fly several times a year with medical supplies including liquids over the limit, powder formula that we put into baggies for pre measurement, epipens, and liquid medication.  I stopped asking for the doctor to write a note for us years ago because they NEVER ask to see the letter.  In your case, I would still have one made and make sure they mention something about the ice packs being needed.

 

I always take everything out of the carry on that I believe will be an issue and tell the TSAs that I have liquid in X bag that is over the limit.  They always pull our bag aside and do some extra testing on it.  We just know and expect this to happen every time.  Sometimes they do extra testing on the powder formula (usually when it is left in the can) but more often than not they do not bother with it.

 

I definitely agree with what others have said-DO NOT GATE CHECK your bag with medical supplies.  

 

I would make the calls ahead time as suggested but keep in mind that when you actually get to the airport, no one there will have any idea that you called ahead and you will probably have to explain everything again.

 

I have found that it is best to just let all TSAs know as we are going through the line that I have x,y, and z.  

 

Last time we traveled, one of the medicine bottles leaked on my hands and the suitcase.  Apparently, one of the ingredients is the same as one used in making bombs.   :confused1:  We had extra security checks that day.   :closedeyes:

 

ETA:  The flight attendant who is checking us in at the gate will often give us a tag for the gate check.  I just put it in my pocket and carry on our suitcase anyway.  If the flight attendant on the plane says something about your bag being to large, just let them know that it is full of medical supplies that have to stay with you on the flight.


Edited by Nemom, 17 July 2017 - 02:40 PM.


#14 3 ladybugs

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:42 PM

The last time I flew, I flew with my port still in me. They didn't even send me through extra security precautions. I flew from Philly to Minneapolis. This was in 2010. 

 

The rest of the stuff I would contact someone at the airport about it and see if you can get pre-screened or something.  You will likely still find ignorant people but anything that you can do to make sure the medical supply stays with you is a good thing. I really don't see how they could ask you to check it. It isn't like it is something that big or bulky. 



#15 Crimson Wife

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:07 PM

I would check with the manufacturer of the pump to see if they have a special medical ID card they can send her. Youngest DD has one for her cochlear implant and its accessories.

 

If this is the 10 y.o. she can go through the Pre-Check lane with your DH without needing her own clearance. If it's the 18 y.o. she will need her own. The TSA Pre-Check approval process was surprisingly quick for both me and my 14 y.o. (5 & 7 days) but we already have valid passports so it might take longer if your DD doesn't. The lines have gotten so long in non-Pre-Check security lanes that it's absolutely worth the money IMHO.



#16 MommyLiberty5013

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:32 PM

Nope. Nope. NOPE to gate checking stuff like this. Just NOPE! You never put critical medical stuff in the cargo bay of a jet. It's not temperatre regulated like the rest of the plane is. Temps up at 30,000 feet are insanely cold. These items need to be in the cabin in some place. How I know...DH is a commercial pilot.

 

I agree with arriving early, having a note, and doing pre-board. Arrive at your gate early too and as soon as the agent is there, politely tell them your situation, and ask them what you can do.

 

You may need to make these items part of your allotted carry-ons and compile other things into one other bag.

 

 


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#17 prairiewindmomma

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:44 PM

We regularly flew with a lot of complex medical supplies.  Go through the medical/special screening line when you get to the X-ray screening point.  They will want to see a doctor's note, and if they want to pat her down, mention the port (it was a sensitive place for dd--always felt bruised). The letter should state her diagnosis, the list of necessary items and what is needed to properly care for them, and that the items must be handcarried.

 

You don't want to gate check those items. We had to gate check a pediatric wheelchair, and the number of times it was "lost", damaged, or delayed until EVERY. FREAKING. PERSON was off the plane was unreal. More than once, a pilot had to chew out baggage crew to get the wheelchair to us.  We flew the airline regularly at the same time, so we were "known" to the flight crew, otherwise I think it would've been worse.

 

Any chance she can stow the bag under her seat (smaller than 20x17x11)?

 

 



#18 applethyme

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:56 PM

Does everything need to be carried with her or could you fedex some to their destination?  We have a lot of traveling patients visit our area and they often send medications and supplies ahead of time instead of trying to fly with it all.


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#19 Lanny

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:21 PM

Does everything need to be carried with her or could you fedex some to their destination? We have a lot of traveling patients visit our area and they often send medications and supplies ahead of time instead of trying to fly with it all.

Regarding FedEx. They and other carriers lose or misplace things on occasion. I would be very concerned about the temperature the shipment would be at.

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