Abusing Wheelchair Privileges To Cheat The Airport Security Line

A few weeks ago, we told you about TSA screeners who abused their role in the security screening process to steal from passengers.

Now, we’ll highlight an instance where passengers are (seemingly) gaming the system. A recent New York Times article discusses a rise in able-bodied passengers requesting wheelchairs and speculates that they may be exploiting assistance reserved for disabled guests to speed through security or to enjoy the privilege of being the first to board an airplane.

Although no hard data is available to prove that this phenomenon is actually on the rise, the article uses anecdotal evidence – such as passengers who can lift heavy luggage after going through security or those who use a chair to board the plane (where they claim the perk of being on first) but not to exit the aircraft (where they’ll leave last).

The wheelchair pushers don’t seem to mind, either. Most earn the majority of their income from tips, and when business is up, so is pay.

Others aren’t so happy. Peter Greenberg, the Travel Editor for CBS News, was quoted in the article as saying that this technique may backfire. “I’m a big believer in karma,” he said. “You don’t put on a dress when the Titanic is going down so you can get in the first lifeboat.”

Just like those who use handicapped tags to park in spaces not designated for them, we’re inclined to agree, but we’d like to hear from readers.

What do you think? Is there abuse in the system or are passengers simply more inclined now to exercise their right to a wheelchair?

[Flickr via Peter Kaminski]