A Prince-loving vegan travels to Minneapolis with a CPAP machine. Then some joke of some kind occurs.
June 14, 2011 10:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to head to the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, and as a vegan traveling for the first time with a CPAP machine for my sleep apnea, I have a few questions - snowflake details inside.

I'm really jazzed about going to NN in Minneapolis this year, but the following concerns me:

1. I need to carry my CPAP machine on a flight with me, as it's too delicate to be checked - I'm seeing some conflicting stuff online as to traveling with the CPAP machine at the airport, and I'm wondering: do I need to have any particular documentation with me? I need to travel with the CPAP machine - given it's medical equipment, will I still be charged by Delta for the carry-on? Any general hints for traveling with CPAP?

2. One thing I've had trouble with at Netroots Nation in the past is that the vegan food options provided are slim to absolute none - I'd like to bring some spare meals if possible, but not sure what's most easily to make and travel with, that'll be ready to fly on Wednesday, and stay good for the conference without a guarantee of a fridge at the hotel - or, barring that, some really cheap, healthy options for a fresh lunch right next to the hotel, the Millennium Hotel Minneapolis.

Bonus points: If anyone knows where I can get something really cool and Prince-related for my partner while in Minneapolis, or something Prince/Replacements-related for me to do while there, I'd be much appreciated. (General vegan food recs are also much appreciated!)

(BTW, if anyone else will be at Netroots Nation, would love to see you there, especially at the panel I'm moderating. Thanks!)
posted by (The Rt Hon.) MP to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: the newest food truck - hola arepa - makes their arepas vegan friendly. they usually have meat fillings and one veg choice (has cheese but you can ask to leave it out). order a few and tuck them away. they're on nicollet near the ids plaza. the wait is kind of long, but the arepas are pretty tasty. and you can partake in our blossoming food truck culture.

if you can, try renting a nice ride bike and go down to the west bank of the umn campus. it's only two or three miles. hard times cafe is a GREAT veggie/vegan restaurant. a bit on the scruffy side and they take cash only, but the food is honest and cheap. cash only. you could probably take some stuff to go, too.

go further south on nicollet - walk or nice ride - to the 25th block and visit jasmine deli. they have a great selection of banh mi - vietnamese sandwiches - that come in mock duck or tofu. again, take a few to go.
posted by mlo at 11:05 PM on June 14, 2011

Best answer: should also mention the wedge coop is about a mile from your hotel. aside from typical grocery items, they have a lovely deli where you can get some vegan dishes/sandwiches and smoothies too.
posted by mlo at 11:13 PM on June 14, 2011

Best answer: I've flown more than a dozen times with my CPAP and never had an issue. I used to take this (http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/rules/20011029.htm) as a printed backup but have never needed it when I'm asked about carry ons. I say it's a CPAP and thats all it takes to let it go. "Medical devices", which this definitely counts, by law (regulation?) are not allowed to be counted by airlines as a carry on due to the ADA as it was explained to me by the sleep clinic I got mine at.

Be prepared for enhanced screening of the bag it's in, evidently it came up as a terrorist possibility several years ago so they'll swab it but that's all.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 12:06 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: Seconding ..ooOOoo...ooOOoo.. on the CPAP. I have that same letter in my CPAP travel case, but no one has ever questioned me on why I have the device or what it is. Be prepared to take it out of its case at the TSA checkpoint and put the device in one tray, and the travel bag with your headgear and hose in a separate tray, though. If possible, I'd suggest putting a rubber band around the hose so that it doesn't flop out of the bag when you open it.

Once I'm on the plane I just put the CPAP in an overhead bin, and go on about my flight.
posted by ralan at 4:01 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: Oh hey, welcome to Minneapolis! Ecopolitan, which is near the Wedge co-op, does raw food. I haven't eaten there, but I have eaten a meal cooked by one of the chefs and it was very tasty indeed. Also, for late night snacks you can go to the downtown Pizza Luce, which has tons of vegan options and is our crown jewel, pizza-wise. I imagine they'd deliver to your hotel, too. If you have ambling time and don't mind hippies, you should certainly go to the venerable Hard Times Cafe on the West Bank, or possible the Triple Rock which is a show space with a restaurant/bar which used to be full of young punks and is now full of old punks - greasy diner food at its finest.

If you have other MPLS-related questions (although I can't really help on the Prince front) feel free to me-mail me.
posted by Frowner at 4:04 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: I travel with a CPAP every week and it's really not a big deal. Just put it in a separate tray when you go through security like you would a laptop - the TSA screeners are pretty used to seeing them, and I honestly have never had one even ask me about it or do a secondary screening, let alone require any documentation. It's pretty rare for gate agents to hassle me about the additional piece of carry on, but when they do I just tell them it's a medical device and that's the end of it - by law they can't count it against your carry on limit.

One other piece of advice for travelling with it is that if yours has a humidifier, I wouldn't bother getting distilled water for it on the road - for a short trip it's fine to use tap water and then when you get home descale the humidifier reservoir by soaking in a 4:1 solution of water and white vinegar.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:09 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: I also travel with my CPAP every week with no hassle. TSA used to do a bomb wipe inspection but over the past six months most airports just want the case opened as it goes through XRay. Note that it does NOT count against your carry-on limit.

Travel pro tip: Pack a light, 6' extension cord in your CPAP case.
posted by donovan at 6:44 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: Definitely hop on a Nice Ride bike and head to the warehouse district in Minneapolis - take your picture next to the Prince star on First Avenue's wall! (It's the club in the Purple Rain movie.)
posted by jillithd at 7:29 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: Regarding the CPAP, my experience is completely random as to how the CPAP is treated during the security check. Even flying out of the same airport, I have been variously: pulled aside with it so they can swab it for chemicals; not treated any differently, or; told that next time I should have the bag/case unzipped in advance so they can see it as it goes along the conveyor belt. The next time I didn't have it unzipped and nobody said anything.

I also keep a printout of the document that ..ooOOoo...ooOOoo.. mentioned with it, but it hasn't come up because I've only been carrying one other carry-on item with it. I know that technically according to that document, I'm supposed to be able to carry it in addition to the 2 carry-ons, but I am afraid of getting into an argument with some airline employee about it if they interpret it differently, and then being made late for my flight or whatever. I have heard that some people may interpret that document to mean that it only applies to medical equipment that will be needed/used while actually on the plane. Plus, even among different airlines they seem to have different policies as to whether the CPAP would be considered exempt from the carry-on count. So I usually give any extra carry-on items to Mr. Ipsum to hold with his stuff.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: I was going to scoff at the idea of vegan food in Minneapolis, as I've apparently become cynical. But people have reminded me the situation isn't quite as sad as it feels sometimes.

I'll second (or third) Hard Times and the Jasmine Deli (who don't actually do tofu banh mi, only mock duck--there's a weird obsession with mock duck in this city). As a heads up, both are cash only. The Jasmine Deli does soups with vegetable broth, which is exciting. Portions at Hard Times are huge, so it's something to keep in mind if you order something that will keep out of a fridge for a few hours.

The southbound 18 bus will get you to the Jasmine Deli if it's obnoxiously hot, you're not up for the walk or don't have a ton of time, otherwise just turn left out of your hotel. The southbound 17 will go to 24th and Lyndale, two blocks from the Wedge.

There's a Target with a food section at 9th and Nicollet (right out of the hotel).
posted by hoyland at 12:48 PM on June 15, 2011

Best answer: I have heard that some people may interpret that document to mean that it only applies to medical equipment that will be needed/used while actually on the plane.

For what it's worth, this has never happened to me, and I don't travel with a medical necessity letter or anything like that. I have had gate agents get up in my face about carry-on limits before, and just saying "this one is an assistive medical device" has always been enough to make them back off immediately.

Not to say that there's no chance at all that you might not come across some over-officious and under-trained airline employee in a backwater regional airport that might not know the rules, and of course in international travel other countries' rules apply, but the FAA regulations are totally unambiguous that CPAPs do not count against the carry-on limit, and most airline employees I've dealt with have been knowledgeable about that.

See, for instance, paragraph D of 14 CFR 382.41, there's no language at all about requiring the devices to be for use on the plane:
Carriers shall not, in implementing
their carry-on baggage policies,
count toward a limit on carry-on
items any assistive device brought into
the cabin by a qualified individual with
a disability.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:33 PM on June 15, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - this has been incredibly helpful. Flew this morning with the CPAP, had zero issues - though my iphone did break as soon as I got into Minneapolis - go figure! :) Stopped by the Apple Store, now at the hotel and planning the next few days - thank you again.

And if anyone else is going to Netroots Nation, or might be up for a quick Minneapolis meetup Thurs-Sat, me-mail me...
posted by (The Rt Hon.) MP at 5:16 PM on June 15, 2011

Response by poster: Ooh, and for anyone that knows, if you have any suggestions for Prince/Replacements must-sees/cheap-memorabilia for myself or my partner, would still be *much* appreciated.
posted by (The Rt Hon.) MP at 5:17 PM on June 15, 2011

Seriously, post an IRL meetup, and lots of us (who like eating vegan!) would be in!
posted by gregglind at 6:13 PM on June 15, 2011

any suggestions for Prince/Replacements must-sees/cheap-memorabilia for myself or my partner

Go into the skyway. Take a picture of yourself at an angle where you can also see the street below. Go outside, and take a picture of yourself at an angle where you can see the skyway above. Photoshop your partner into the opposite section of each picture. Print, frame, voila: fabulously authentic Replacements-related memorabilia.

Evergreen Chinese Restaurant on Nicollet has fabulous vegan mock-meat chinese food options. It's a longish walk from your hotel, but super easy by bus or Nice Ride bike.
posted by vytae at 10:25 PM on June 15, 2011

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