Frontier Airlines Facing Widespread Abuse of Wheelchair Service - Hint: It's Not Just Frontier

AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File

On Friday, Frontier Airlines complained to Fox Business about the rampant abuse of their wheelchair service. Passenger airlines routinely offer this service, in which an attendant with a wheelchair will transport a disabled passenger to or from their gate. But there is no verification of a passenger's disability required, and now some travelers have caught on to the notion that if they claim a disability, they can not only get a ride to the gate but be allowed to pre-board the aircraft.


Frontier Airlines said Friday that there is an increasing number of people who are abusing the carrier's wheelchair system in order to get priority boarding. 

"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." 

The statement comes on the heels of Frontier CEO Barry Biffle's comments on the issue during a Wings Club luncheon in New York on Thursday, according to CNBC.  

Frontier's website states that it is "happy to provide services to our passengers who require wheelchair or mobility assistance" when boarding and deplaning its aircraft. 

However, the issue is, "there are people using wheelchair assistance who don’t need it at all," Biffle said. 

Here's the thing: It's not just Frontier.

In June 2023, a Southwest Airlines passenger posted online that several flyers may have found a way to take advantage of the carrier's wheelchair policy in order to be first in line to board a plane.

He claimed that there was a "pre-boarding scam" after witnessing 20 passengers requesting wheelchair assistance for his flight. 


This isn't just a scam. It's an unfathomably selfish fraud, one that directly affects those passengers who are actually disabled.

See Related: Flyers Purposefully Avoiding Flights on Boeing Planes as Safety Concerns Become Impossible to Ignore 

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Full disclosure: My wife, a 100 percent disabled veteran, uses United Airlines' wheelchair service every time she flies. Her use of the service is mandated by her neurological and cardiac conditions, which cause chronic pain, balance issues, and shortness of breath at times. Likely, she would be unable to navigate large airports like Denver without this service. And there are many more disabled people out there just like her, who likewise depend on these services.

And every (insert profane invective here) who abuses this system takes scarce airline resources away from those who truly need it. These people are callous, insensitive, uncaring, and dishonest.

Granted I take these kinds of things personally, due to a personal connection. There are, I'm certain, many people who take these kinds of things personally.

A few years back, the "emotional support animal" dodge was well and truly out of hand. People, claiming they needed the animals for said emotional support, were bringing on emotional support ducks, emotional support squirrels, lizards, peacocks, turkeys, and even emotional support pigs. The airlines dealt with that dodge (in part by requiring a fee for emotional support animals), and things returned, more or less, to normal. There are things the airlines can do: making people register their need for a wheelchair in advance (it's on my wife's permanent profile with United) and, if it comes to that, requiring them to present some medical justification. 


And, yes, those are things the airlines should do — not necessarily be mandated to do. They have dealt with these sorts of scams before. They can do it again.


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