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Frontier Airlines CEO Claims There’s ‘Rampant Abuse’ of Wheelchair Services and Says Fakers Should Be Fined

Frontier Airlines CEO Claims There’s ‘Rampant Abuse’ of Wheelchair Services and Says Fakers Should Be Fined

a group of airplanes parked on a runway

The chief executive of Frontier Airlines claims there is ‘rampant abuse’ of wheelchair services that US carriers must, by law, provide to disabled people, and has called for people who fake a disability to be fined for abusing the service.

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

The CEO of the Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier continued: “Everyone should be entitled to it who needs it, but if you park in a handicapped space, they will tow your car and fine you.”

“There should be the same penalty for abusing these services.”

Biffle says that on some Frontier flights, up to 20 people will be brought to the gate in wheelchairs, but on arrival, only three people will need assistance getting off the plane.

“We are healing so many people,” Biffle jibed.

Each customer requiring wheelchair assistance costs the airline up to $35, but Frontier is required to provide the service free of charge under the provisions of the Air Carrier Access Act, which affords disabled Americans with special rights to ensure they can travel like everyone else.

Customers who require wheelchair assistance will often be fast-tracked through security checkpoints and get priority boarding, which Biffle and some other leaders in the aviation industry believe opens up the service to abuse by people who don’t have a disability.

In fact, in 2022, the now-retired chief executive of London’s Heathrow Airport claimed abuse of special assistance programs was being promoted as a ‘travel hack’ on TikTok.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, told LBC radio that there are now “significantly” more passengers requesting special assistance than before the pandemic.

“Why is that happening? Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to try and get FastTrack through the airport, and we need to protect that for the people who most need help,” Holland-Kaye explained.

In 2022, TikTok influencer Wolf Jenkin sparked a heated debate after he filmed himself faking an ankle injury to get fast-tracked through Bodrum Airport in Turkey because he feared he would miss his flight if he was forced to join the long lines of other passengers.

At the same time, airports and airlines have been criticized by disabled people who genuinely need additional assistance because they have been forced to endure long waits for help or have had their mobility devices lost or damaged in transit.

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