Frontier Airlines passengers are abusing the company’s wheelchair service to skip the line and secure priority boarding on their flights, the budget airline claims.

“There is massive, rampant abuse of special services. There are people using wheelchair assistance who don’t need it at all,” CEO Barry Biffle said at a luncheon at the Wings Club in New York on Thursday, according to CNBC.

Frontier seating is based on a first-come-first-serve basis and those who request wheelchair assistance board the plane before other flyers.

Biffle says he has personally seen 20 people board a flight in a wheelchair but only 3 requested the assisted service when disembarking.

“We are healing so many people,” he jokingly said.

Frontier Airlines says some passengers are abusing the wheelchair services to get priority boarding on flights. mtcurado

The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 prohibits airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities and requires the companies to provide “safe carriage” including wheelchairs for the passengers to board the aircraft.

The company’s website says it is “happy to provide services to our passengers who require wheelchair or mobility assistance” but Biffle is frustrated with the people who are taking advantage of the services in place to help those who need them.

It costs the airline $30 to $35 for a customer to request wheelchair assistance, and the abuse can lead to delays for other travelers, Biffle claims.

Frontier seating is based off a first come-first-serve basis, and those who request wheelchair assistance board the plane before other flyers. mtcurado

“Everyone should be entitled to it who needs it, but you park in a handicapped space they will tow your car and fine you,” Biffle told CNBC. “There should be the same penalty for abusing these services.”

Issues can extend beyond the boarding gate as security gates and other airport services

“There is widespread abuse among passengers using wheelchair services to move to the front of security lines and obtain priority boarding on flights,” the carrier told FOX Business, adding that “the TSA and airlines are in a difficult position when it comes to managing the issue.” 

Shady passengers faking injuries and disabilities to skip the line has also impacted other carriers, such as Southwest Airlines.

Last year, a Southwest Airlines passenger took to social media to complain about the “pre-boarding scam” he saw as nearly two dozen people lined up in wheelchairs waiting to board a flight in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“20 passengers boarding using a wheelchair and probably only 3 need one to deplane,” the flyer named Paul wrote on X.

Southwest doesn’t assign seats, similar to Frontier, which leads to preboarders getting the run of the cabin.

Last year, a Southwest Airlines passenger took to social media to complain about the “pre-boarding scam” he saw as nearly two dozen people lined up in wheelchairs waiting to board a flight in Florida. @trendready/X

Another Southwest passenger recently called out a similar scam on a flight from Philadelphia to Chicago where he saw 30 preboarders lined up in the terminal who reportedly “self-identify” as disabled to get the coveted seating on the flight.

“People are taking advantage of the system,” Steve Maziarka told the Wall Street Journal about the February flight. “It’s just gotten out of control.”

In 2022, the head of a major airport called out TikTok users for suggesting the wheelchair abuse to their followers.

“If you go on TikTok you will see that is one of the travel hacks that people are recommending, please don’t do that we need to protect the service for the people who need it most,” then London-Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told UK-based LBC radio.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/714554391/SXjuyNEsXNkjV2pG?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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