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Frontier CEO: Stop Wheelchair Service Abuse

The chief executive of Frontier Airlines is telling flyers to stop requesting wheelchair service if they can walk to their next gate.
Airlines are obligated to provide wheelchair service for travelers who have mobility issues – but one airline executive believes that the system is being abused.


CNBC reports Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle has one request for flyers: Only use the wheelchair service if you actually need it.


Biffle Claims “Massive, Rampant Abuse of Special Services”

Although the Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to provide equal services to travelers who have mobility issues, Biffle is alleging that the system is being overrun by those who don’t actually need a wheelchair.


“There is massive, rampant abuse of special services,” Biffle said at meeting of The Wings Club in New York. “There are people using wheelchair assistance who don’t need it at all.”


According to Biffle, Frontier pays as much as $35 per wheelchair when requested for a flight. Not only does an abundance of flyers asking for wheelchairs add costs to the ultra-low-cost-carrier, but Biffle says it creates a backup for flyers who actually need assistance getting off the plane and across the terminal. To make his case, the chief executive cited a flight where 20 flyers were brought to the aircraft in wheelchairs, but only three required them to get off.


“Everyone should be entitled to it who needs it, but you park in a handicapped space they will tow your car and fine you,” said Biffle, as quoted by CNBC. “There should be the same penalty for abusing these services.”


The discussion about wheelchair access comes after the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a major change affecting how mobility devices are handled. In January 2024, the agency suggested any mishandling of a wheelchair would be a violation of the Air Carrier Access Act, which would result in several additional consumer protections.


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Sticksandstones May 31, 2024

Long-time lurker who has registered to reply to this thread (and ask for a little advice).

I use a pair of crutches to walk and an electronic device that lifts my foot. 

I've requested wheelchair assistance for a flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas. I remember when I last flew in 2000 it was a long walk through Heathrow. I'm not going to be able to make it on crutches alone. 

Reading some of the comments here I'm now feeling like a fraud for requesting wheelchair assistance because I can walk a short distance. 

I won't need a chair on the plane as I can walk along the seat backs - a bit like I walk along the walls and furniture at home. 

I'm unsure if I remember correctly that Vegas on the other side is a lot shorter walk so will I need a chair? 

Does anyone know if there'll be a wheelchair at Vegas when I arrive and leave or does BA only provide for Heathrow out? 

Is there seating at arrivals in Vegas and Heathrow for people who can walk but not far before having to sit should a chair not appear?

Last but not least, can I get on the plane with my crutches or do they have to go in the hold?

Has anyone flown with an FES device (NHS issued) or will that also need to go in the hold?

Thanks and sorry for all the questions. 

SamirD May 30, 2024

And then there are times that you request the service and never get it.  DFW is a huge airport and 3/4 times when my father requested the service, he was either helped halfway and told to 'wait' or no one was there at all.  And all the while the people with carts were operating it like a taxi service, picking up those that they knew would tip.  When the dispatcher had to announce several times over the radios that they need to speak english, you knew that this was a total mess.  I avoid DFW even though my dad passed away.

ia.traveler May 30, 2024

People are living longer and older people are traveling more. Many of them simply cannot walk long distances in most airports, cannot stand for long periods, or would have difficulty finding their way around, especially when making connections at unfamiliar airports.
My 91-year-old mother is one of those people. She walks very slowly with a cane and needs to stop and frequently rest along the way due to pain and shortness of breath.. I usually travel with her but not always. We both have GE with TSA pre-check. 
She is willing and able to walk down the jetway and would gladly wait her turn. However, she would be holding up the line and in other people's way. As for de-planing, walking up the jetway would be a struggle for her so she waits for the wheelchair. 

johnny5a May 30, 2024

on international flights, some use wheelchairs to bypass immigration lines

gbeaumont May 28, 2024

They find Jetway Jesus!