Air passengers are using a TikTok travel hack where they pretend to need a wheelchair in an attempt to skip lines, airport CEO claims

Queues form at Heathrow Airport.

Delays and cancellations have caused significant problems for travelers at Heathrow Airport.Anadolu Agency / Contributor / Getty

  • Passengers are pretending to need wheelchairs to avoid airport lines, according to Heathrow’s CEO.

  • John Holland-Kaye told LBC that it’s due to people using a travel hack that they’ve seen on TikTok.

  • Demand for the airport’s wheelchair support team had increased “significantly,” Holland-Kaye said.

The CEO of one of the world’s busiest airports said that some passengers are exploiting a TikTok travel hack, where able-bodied people pretend to need wheelchair support, as a means of bypassing travel chaos.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, told the Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) radio station that the airport has as many people working in its passenger support team as it had before the pandemic. However, demand for the team had increased “significantly,” he said.

“We have more demand than we had before the pandemic,” Holland-Kaye said. “Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to try to get fast-tracked through the airport. That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing.”

He added: “If you go on TikTok, you’ll see that it is one of the travel hacks that people are recommending.”

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport told Insider that the trend has been reported as happening at other airports. “It’s is obviously something we don’t condone which is why John brought it up today,” they said.

Amid a summer of travel disruption, delays, and flight cancellations — caused by widespread labor shortages that have left aviation firms stretched at peak times — stories have emerged of some disabled passengers being caught up in the disruption at various airports.

Holland-Kaye was responding to a claim by the host that disabled passengers were having to wait for mobility support at Heathrow’s

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London Heathrow Airport boss says airlines are the ones to blame for travel chaos because they slashed baggage-handling jobs and underpay workers

Suitcases are seen uncollected at Heathrow's Terminal Three bagage reclaim, west of London on July 8, 2022. - British Airways on Wednesday axed another 10,300 short-haul flights up to the end of October, with the aviation sector battling staff shortages and booming demand as the pandemic recedes.

The aviation industry is dealing with a messy summer travel season as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels — but staffing has not.Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

  • London Heathrow Airport’s chairman, Lord Paul Deighton, blamed airlines for the travel chaos.

  • Airlines cut ground-handling staff during the pandemic and aren’t able to replace them now, he said.

  • That’s because airlines aren’t willing to pay market rates for the wages of baggage handlers, he said.

The chairman of London Heathrow Airport has hit back at airlines blaming the aviation hub for the travel chaos.

Airlines have not managed to recruit enough ground handlers because they are underpaying them, Lord Paul Deighton wrote in the Telegraph on Tuesday. Such workers handle a wide range of jobs in airports from check-in to loading and unloading bags.

“It is a highly competitive, labor intensive, low margin business, characterized by short-term contracts. Airlines have driven down costs over the years, and this was one of the first costs they slashed during the pandemic,” Deighton wrote.

As a result, over half of ground handlers across Europe have left the industry and many with driving skills have been snapped up as delivery drivers, he added. Ground-handling companies are trying to fill the positions, “but if their airline customers won’t pay market rates, then they aren’t able to fill the posts,” Deighton wrote.

Heathrow has been asking airlines to meet demand with adequate ground-handling staff, but “in the last few weeks, we have seen a shocking increase in planes departing without bags and passengers having flights canceled after they were already on board,” he added.

Deighton’s defense of Heathrow Airport came on the back of criticism from airlines as the airport has capped how many passengers can fly out from the facility in a day in order to contain the

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Strong dollar vs. euro: Time to book European travel?

The U.S. dollar hasn’t been this strong in Europe in two decades. 

Earlier this month, the euro hit parity with the dollar, falling to its lowest level since 2002 and, at times, even skirted just below a one-to-one exchange rate with the U.S. currency.

Travel experts have mixed views on whether now is a good time for tourists to visit European countries that use the euro as currency. Some encourage tourists to take advantage of this opportunity, while others advise against it and recommend holding off until the fall when demand wanes and disruptions at airports ease. 

Lee Thompson, the co-founder of group adventure travel company Flash Pack, told FOX Business that it’s the best time to travel because prices will likely increase significantly for tourists in 2023 due to higher fuel costs, taxes and exchange rates.  

SUMMER TRAVEL PRICES SOAR AMID INCREASED DEMAND FOR FLIGHTS, HOTELS

“The dollar is so strong against the euro and British pound at the moment and may never get this cheap again,” Thompson told FOX Business. “2023 is set to be more expensive to travel with hotels inflating their prices quite significantly, so now is the best time to travel.” 

Passengers at Heathrow Airport line up

Travelers line up at security at Heathrow Airport in London on June 22, 2022. (AP/Frank Augstein / Associated Press)

The dollar is climbing mainly because the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates more aggressively than central banks in other countries are in its effort to cool the hottest U.S. inflation in four decades.

Clint Henderson, the managing editor of travel website The Points Guy, argued that even though hotels and restaurants are more affordable due to the conversion rate, demand is still driving prices higher. 

“The problem is that demand is so high for Europe right now, prices

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