Frontier Airlines Grapples with Rampant Abuse of Wheelchair Service, Extending Beyond Frontier

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Frontier Airlines complained on Friday to Fox Business of the abuse that was occurring with their wheelchair service. This service is offered by passenger airlines, where an attendant in a wheelchair transports a disabled person to or from the gate. There is no requirement to verify a passenger’s disabilities. However, some travelers are now claiming that they will be able to get a wheelchair to their gate and even pre-board.

Frontier Airlines announced Friday that a growing number of passengers are abusing its wheelchair system to gain priority boarding.

The carrier said that there is widespread abuse by passengers who use wheelchair services to get to the front in security lines and to obtain priority boarding for flights. “The TSA and the airlines are both in a tough position when it comes down to managing this issue,” they added.

CNBC reports that the statement follows Frontier CEO Barry Biffle’s remarks on the matter during a Wings Club Luncheon held in New York, on Thursday.

Frontier’s website says that they are “happy to offer services to our customers who need wheelchair or mobility assistance”, when boarding or deplaning their aircraft.

Biffle stated, “Some people use wheelchair assistance but don’t really need it.”

Frontier is not the only company that offers this service.

Southwest Airlines passenger in June 2023 posted on the internet that some flyers have taken advantage of their wheelchair policy to get to the front of line for boarding a plane.

He claimed there was a pre-boarding scam after he saw 20 passengers request wheelchair assistance on his flight.

This is not just a scam. This is a selfish, unfathomable fraud that affects passengers who are disabled.

Disclosure: My wife is a veteran who is 100 percent disabled and uses the wheelchair service of United Airlines every time she travels. Her neurological and cardiovascular conditions cause her to use the service. These conditions can lead to chronic pain, issues with balance, and even shortness of breathe. She would likely be unable navigate large airports such as Denver without the service. There are many other disabled people who depend on the same services as her.

Every (insert a profane insult here) who abuses the system is taking away scarce airline resources from those who need them most. These people are insensitive, callous, uncaring and dishonest.

It’s true that I do take things like this personally because of a personal relationship. Many people, I am sure, take this kind of thing personally.

The “emotional assistance animal” scam was out of control a few years ago. People brought emotional support ducks and emotional support squirrels on board, as well as peacocks. turkeys and emotional support pigs. Airlines dealt with this dodge by charging a fee to emotional support animals. Things returned to more or less normal. Airlines can take steps to help people. They can require them to register in advance their need for wheelchairs (my wife’s profile at United shows this) or, if necessary, to provide medical evidence.

Yes, these are things that airlines should be doing, but they’re not required to. They’ve dealt with scams of this nature before. They have done it before.