I have a portable dialysis machine that I’ve taken on many road trips, but my next trip requires an airplane flight. Can I take it aboard the aircraft, and can it be carried in the passenger cabin? Will I have to pay an additional baggage fee if I take it with me? Can I also bring my dialysis liquid and supplies with me?
The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to permit disabled passengers to bring assistive devices aboard the aircraft, provided they comply with applicable safety, security and hazardous materials rules. A portable dialysis machine is considered an assistive device, so yes, the airlines will usually transport it. Contact you airline well in advance of your flight to find out what documentation is required, and for instructions on how to pack your equipment.
Your dialysis machine will be given priority over all other passenger baggage brought into the cabin, provided you preboard the aircraft. If it cannot be accommodated in the passenger cabin (due to size or other issues) it will be transported in the baggage compartment. Since it is considered an assistive device, it will not be counted against your baggage allowance, and you will not be charged for it.
All of the above is dependant on the size of your machine. Airlines are not required to transport larger machines, as it would be considered an undue burden to them. Although that determination is made on a case-by-case basis, the Department of Transportation (DOT) feels that dialysis machines that weigh 100 pounds or slightly more (including the case) are of a reasonable size to transport in the baggage compartment.
Dialysis supplies are also included in the assistive device category, however the DOT considers a large supply to be an undue burden to the airlines. The DOT believes that it is reasonable for airlines to limit the quantity of dialysis liquid carried to a two-day supply. So you may have to plan ahead and have some supplies shipped to you for a longer stay.