The airport claimed many passengers are faking a disability to get the airport special assistance service to fast track themselves and avoid the long queues.
The chief executive of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, explained a wheelchair “travel hack” went viral online and since then, the number of passengers requiring special assistance has gone up considerably.
Heathrow’s chief executive told LBC that faking an injury is a “travel hack” which has been recently popularised on social media platform TikTok.
This has led to an increasing number of passengers using wheelchairs at the airport in order to skip the queues.
Some travellers, he explained, pretend to be disabled in order to get through security and passport control quickly.
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John Holland-Kaye explained: “Demand has gone up significantly.
“For passengers requiring wheelchair support, we have had more demand than we’ve had before the pandemic. Now, why is that happening?
“Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to get fast-tracked through the airport. That’s absolutely the wrong thing to be doing!
“We need to protect that for the people who most need help.”
One passenger posted a video on social media where he can be seen taking one of his shoes and socks off to demonstrate how he faked a limp.
In another video, he is seen laughing in the wheelchair while saying: “Wheelchair secured.”
A flight attendant who recently spoke to Express.co.uk about the issue explained: “When you request assistance, you are the first to board the aircraft and you get to skip all the queues.
“When a passenger asks for special assistance at the airport they will provide with wheelchairs if needed, and the staff will escort you to the gate and take you on the electric mobility aid wherever you need to go around the airport.
“Assistance passengers also have priority so they are the first ones to board the aircraft and they skip all the queues.”
The Civil Aviation Authority states, however, that only “passengers with a disability or reduced mobility are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’, which is free of charge, when travelling by air”.
“Special assistance is available to passengers who may need help to travel such as the elderly, those people with a physical disability, such as wheelchair users, and those who have difficulty with social interaction and communication, such as those with autism or dementia.”
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