We have all seen it. Wheelchairs at airports to assist travelers who are truly unable to walk and navigate their way to/from gates and security lines. For this group in genuine need, the airlines and airport authorities must do everything they can to assist. However, an ever-increasing number of "savvy" travelers, have gamed the system to demand wheelchairs to expedite their processing as they go to the head of the line for check-in, security, and boarding. Such highly sought after amenities create the perfect situation for able travelers to cheat the system, robbing the truly needy by compromising the service, and putting extra burdens and costs on airlines and airports. Miraculously, these cheating passengers spring to their feet when the flight lands and the line of wheelchairs waiting in the jetways are sent back empty.
So what should the airlines do? If they do get a request for wheelchair assistance, make the passenger sign a document attesting to the genuine need of assistance. They should have their luggage checked in. It will also be important to tag the seat of the wheeled passengers so they remain in their seats until all the other passengers disembark. Since there is an additional cost to airports and airlines, perhaps a service fee should be charged and the arrangements must be done in advance. www.premieretravel.com