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Old 04-12-2021, 10:03 AM   #1  
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Default SYD with a CPAP (abridged version)

I'm posting twice on the same topic, because I recognize my initial composition is lengthy ... let's just call it "The Long and the Short." This is the short for those lacking the dedication to absorbing petty details. This version is "Short" and gets right to the point. The long-read gives details as a courtesy to others that may face medical lock-down in AU.

Mods, delete/merge as you see fit. No harm intended.

The SYD layover with a CPAP is a nightmare! Are there any carriers that have found a solution? I'm thinking in terms of layover avoidance without financial penalty.
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Old 04-12-2021, 10:13 AM   #2  
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Default Detailed Account of SYD Layover with CPAP

I had a SYD layover last week - the 4th since the AU quarantine protocols have been in place. Being incarcerated for 24 or 48 hours sucks, but a new "program" has taken it to a new low for me. I wear a CPAP for sleep apnea; it's use is mandatory as a condition of issuance for my FAA medical certificate.

Thanks to zero heads-up from my company, I was blindsided during initial health screening at SYD. I was asked if I used a CPAP and said yes; I was immediately segregated from the rest of my crew. I was offered two options: 1) surrender my CPAP until departure and do a standard quarantine layover with my crew, or 2) be admitted to a hospital for "rest" if I insisted on using my CPAP. At this point, the cat is out of the bag and I cannot back-peddle, since publicly disavowing my CPAP could have bad consequences for my FAA medical. Mainly, I am dumbfounded and saying "wtf?" to myself, but I am polite and respectful to the people that are handling me (the main guy was an MD, moonlighting for COVID screening duties with the New South Wales Government - I interacted with no less than a dozen task-dedicated personnel before I left the terminal).

Given the shock that set in for being treated like a Leper, I'm not sure I was thinking rationally, but I felt the right call was to cling to my CPAP and deal with the BS that followed. So, when I stood my ground, I learned there was an option aside from hospitalization. I was taken in a medical transport vehicle (ambulance minus lights and siren with gurneys, defibrillator, O2, etc). I was allowed to sit in the patient attendant seat behind the driver. The destination was an apartment complex referred to as a "special health accommodation." At this point I realized I was classified as a patient and not a guest, and things were getting really weird. When I asked if there were COVID positive folks in the facility, there was not straight answer, only "you're floor is dedicated to CPAP users and there are no COVID positive cases on that floor."

My accommodations looked like a modern one bedroom apartment that had been modified to turn the bedroom into what seemed to be an ICU; glass panel walls, sliding glass door. The bedroom was actually a hermetically sealed chamber with a powerful HVAC system. I was allowed to roam the apartment, but I was not allowed to exit the apartment. If using the CPAP, I was required to seal the bedroom and never turn the A/C off. The kitchen was stocked with some packaged food and I was on my own to prepare meals. The food was not good, and outside delivery meals were prohibited. The kitchen also had a ginormous range fan, which was required to run for 5 minutes before opening the hallway door in order to create a negative pressure in the apartment. Windows and patio access were locked off. There were no entry door security locks on the inside. It was never established whether or not medical personnel could or would enter the apartment without notice.

I know this story is getting long-winded, and I could go on. But I'll try to wrap it up with this: I had a nurse assigned to me and she checked in periodically, usually by phone. I also had to communicate with the administration staff of the hospital that runs the facility. During my approx. 22 hours of incarceration, I had to field about 20 calls or knocks on the door. My rest was negatively impacted. For my entire stay, it was emphasized that I was not free to depart until formally discharged. It was never clear if I would be free to go at pickup time, and my transportation to the terminal was uncertain. It wasn't until 40 minutes after target pickup up time that an escort came to my room and released me to a waiting crew van. The uncertainty of my departure created stress and anxiety ... maybe that's just me, but I'm a planner by nature. Although I slept fairly well at night, I felt wiped out leaving the facility, since the process was mentally taxing the entire time. I was in a relief position for that leg, and passed my self-assessment of fitness for duty. As we have no back-up crews in-station, the flight was one phone call away from cancellation, had my layover been any less restful than it was.

The Aussies' perception of a CPAP as a COVID spreading threat is for another conversation, but it seems preposterous to me. Their reaction is a bit overblown. This was a miserable experience that I do not want to repeat.

Getting back to the U.S., I was told that I was the "Guinea Pig," at my airline - the first to experience AU with a CPAP. The extent of comfort I received was "sorry you had to experience that."

I have heard that some crews other airline crews SYD better informed than I was, and may even have a drop/pay protected option. Is that so? SYD is more or less the only current destination on my jet, so of course I am going to petition for some sort of relief. I know CPAP users are a small percentage of the pilot population, but I'm learning there are more than I had imagined. I'd appreciate hearing how other companies have handled it. Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2021, 10:52 AM   #3  
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Originally Posted by zippinbye View Post
I had a SYD layover last week - the 4th since the AU quarantine protocols have been in place. Being incarcerated for 24 or 48 hours sucks, but a new "program" has taken it to a new low for me. I wear a CPAP for sleep apnea; it's use is mandatory as a condition of issuance for my FAA medical certificate.

Thanks to zero heads-up from my company, I was blindsided during initial health screening at SYD. I was asked if I used a CPAP and said yes; I was immediately segregated from the rest of my crew. I was offered two options: 1) surrender my CPAP until departure and do a standard quarantine layover with my crew, or 2) be admitted to a hospital for "rest" if I insisted on using my CPAP. At this point, the cat is out of the bag and I cannot back-peddle, since publicly disavowing my CPAP could have bad consequences for my FAA medical. Mainly, I am dumbfounded and saying "wtf?" to myself, but I am polite and respectful to the people that are handling me (the main guy was an MD, moonlighting for COVID screening duties with the New South Wales Government - I interacted with no less than a dozen task-dedicated personnel before I left the terminal).

Given the shock that set in for being treated like a Leper, I'm not sure I was thinking rationally, but I felt the right call was to cling to my CPAP and deal with the BS that followed. So, when I stood my ground, I learned there was an option aside from hospitalization. I was taken in a medical transport vehicle (ambulance minus lights and siren with gurneys, defibrillator, O2, etc). I was allowed to sit in the patient attendant seat behind the driver. The destination was an apartment complex referred to as a "special health accommodation." At this point I realized I was classified as a patient and not a guest, and things were getting really weird. When I asked if there were COVID positive folks in the facility, there was not straight answer, only "you're floor is dedicated to CPAP users and there are no COVID positive cases on that floor."

My accommodations looked like a modern one bedroom apartment that had been modified to turn the bedroom into what seemed to be an ICU; glass panel walls, sliding glass door. The bedroom was actually a hermetically sealed chamber with a powerful HVAC system. I was allowed to roam the apartment, but I was not allowed to exit the apartment. If using the CPAP, I was required to seal the bedroom and never turn the A/C off. The kitchen was stocked with some packaged food and I was on my own to prepare meals. The food was not good, and outside delivery meals were prohibited. The kitchen also had a ginormous range fan, which was required to run for 5 minutes before opening the hallway door in order to create a negative pressure in the apartment. Windows and patio access were locked off. There were no entry door security locks on the inside. It was never established whether or not medical personnel could or would enter the apartment without notice.

I know this story is getting long-winded, and I could go on. But I'll try to wrap it up with this: I had a nurse assigned to me and she checked in periodically, usually by phone. I also had to communicate with the administration staff of the hospital that runs the facility. During my approx. 22 hours of incarceration, I had to field about 20 calls or knocks on the door. My rest was negatively impacted. For my entire stay, it was emphasized that I was not free to depart until formally discharged. It was never clear if I would be free to go at pickup time, and my transportation to the terminal was uncertain. It wasn't until 40 minutes after target pickup up time that an escort came to my room and released me to a waiting crew van. The uncertainty of my departure created stress and anxiety ... maybe that's just me, but I'm a planner by nature. Although I slept fairly well at night, I felt wiped out leaving the facility, since the process was mentally taxing the entire time. I was in a relief position for that leg, and passed my self-assessment of fitness for duty. As we have no back-up crews in-station, the flight was one phone call away from cancellation, had my layover been any less restful than it was.

The Aussies' perception of a CPAP as a COVID spreading threat is for another conversation, but it seems preposterous to me. Their reaction is a bit overblown. This was a miserable experience that I do not want to repeat.

Getting back to the U.S., I was told that I was the "Guinea Pig," at my airline - the first to experience AU with a CPAP. The extent of comfort I received was "sorry you had to experience that."

I have heard that some crews other airline crews SYD better informed than I was, and may even have a drop/pay protected option. Is that so? SYD is more or less the only current destination on my jet, so of course I am going to petition for some sort of relief. I know CPAP users are a small percentage of the pilot population, but I'm learning there are more than I had imagined. I'd appreciate hearing how other companies have handled it. Thanks!

Being bureaucratic, pedantic and OTT, thatís how Australia rolls. Crazy place, at times; wonderful at others. This is beyond stupid.
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Old 04-12-2021, 12:15 PM   #4  
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I would think a canceled flight or two would probably trigger the right phone calls to end this nonsense.
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Old 04-12-2021, 12:21 PM   #5  
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I would think a canceled flight or two would probably trigger the right phone calls to end this nonsense.
Probably by ending the service, Oz ainít backing down in their ostrich plan.
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Old 04-12-2021, 03:59 PM   #6  
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So help me out here, what exactly does CPAP and OSA sufficiently managed to allow flight crew duties have to do with covid?

Or are they just hijacking health care for any condition if you land on their shores???
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:29 PM   #7  
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So help me out here, what exactly does CPAP and OSA sufficiently managed to allow flight crew duties have to do with covid?

Or are they just hijacking health care for any condition if you land on their shores???
No plausible explanation offered. Evidently a COVID case from February in Melbourne (Australian Open tennis?) was traced back to a person that had utilized another type of pulmonary device - a nebulizer. The CPAP has been lumped into the same threat category as the nebulizer. Arguably, both of these machines are capable of atomizing whatever you you place in their chambers (asthma meds in a nebulizer, water in the optional humidifier in the case of a CPAP). So a moist, air-suspended solution being pumped somewhere .... into a human respiratory system, not out of a potentially infected set of lungs, the owner of which was checked for COVID pre departure and upon arrival.

If I have COVID, my normal exhale is going to disperse whatever biohazard is present into the room. Still scratching my head trying to determine how a CPAP would enhance the spread. One more instance of "following the science," it must be. There is zero evidence that a CPAP user is more prone to contracting COVID than the general population, but the waters become muddy in that I expect a good number of folks using a CPAP might also be obese. Mix that leap of logic with bit of wild speculation and "poof," you have sound government policy. Not the craziest facet of the pandemic, but loco enough for me.
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Old 04-12-2021, 08:47 PM   #8  
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Covid hysteria. From government health officials.
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Old 04-14-2021, 11:41 PM   #9  
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Welcome to the new age of international flying! Itís been a crazy 16 months locked in rooms, taking 4plus hours to get through customs and on and on. Going to SYD on this trip and it blows. We have had several guys effected by this and I think they are giving you the option of dropping the trip or removed but not sure since I donít use one.
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