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Airport Passengers Using Wheelchairs To Get Through Airport Security Quicker
By Eddy Metcalf

October 22, 2012 - As airline security grows slower and more stringent, more and more travellers are using the wheelchair services provided by airlines to get through lines quicker. JustWalkers’ Bryan Mercer comments on the ethics of the scam and the negative effect it might have on genuine wheelchair users.

The 1986 Air Carrier Access Act, requires the airlines to accommodate disabled travelers, free of charge and they are not required to show proof of disability. “Miracle flights” are the newest phenomenon in aviation. The term was coined by flight attendants working flights in which as many as a dozen passengers required wheelchairs when boarding, but were “miraculously” able to deplane without them.

How can this be? It may have something to do with the fact that the free wheelchair service offered by airlines allows flyers to get through security faster and board first. But after the plane lands, wheelchair users are the last to exit. According to American Airlines attendant Kelly Skyles, “Not only do we serve them beverages and ensure their safety, now we’re healing the sick.”


These “miracle flyers” have grown more prevalent as airport lines and security have grown longer and more invasive. Some miracle flyers put effort into their scam, affecting limps as soon as they see someone else pushed through security quickly in a wheelchair. Others are more open about the scam, requesting a chair then, as soon as they’ve gotten through security, hopping back up to grab their heavy bags.

Currently, there seems to be no plan to stop the scammers. First of all, those pushing the wheelchairs are all for it. They tend to make low wages and rely on the tips they get for a large percentage of their income. Secondly, though in some cases it’s obvious often it can be hard to tell who’s fake and who’s genuine.

Elderly passengers may be able to walk short distances, but that doesn’t mean they can stand for long periods while waiting in security lines. And despite the scams most people who take advantage of the wheelchair service are genuine.



“I hate long lines as much as anybody, but taking advantage of a free service meant to help the disabled doesn’t sit well with me,” said JustWalkers’ Bryan Mercer, a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years. “Really, it’s just a more complicated way of cutting in line. But what concerns me most is that if people keep doing this, eventually airlines will start requiring proof of disability which is an added burden on those who actually need the service.” Evelyn Danquah, a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines said “When passengers see that the line is so long, they just ask for a wheelchair.” Danquah further stated she has seen fakers stand up from a wheelchair and walk away as soon as they clear security.

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