Recently, airlines have reported a considerable spike in requests for wheelchairs to get around the airport. And a good number of those requests are bogus.
Anecdotal evidence from frequent fliers and advocates for people with disabilities suggests more people are taking advantage of the system. CEO of FareCompare.com and frequent flier Rick Seaney said he's seen an increase in the number of wheelchairs at the airport.How bad is it? Some disability advocates fear that lawmakers could use this to cut back on accommodations for the disabled.
"I would put it on par with a variety of issues like abusing handicap status for parking, disability," he said. "There are always going to be a few that game the system potentially ruining it for the truly needy."
You only need to look at one city to see how serious this is. In Houston, KTRK-TV reports that Intercontinental and Hobby Airports handle as many as 100 wheelchairs a day--and by one estimate, 15 percent of the requests are fake. The airlines, who handle wheelchair requests directly, are usually wary about checking to see if the requests are real, citing privacy concerns. A Houston woman with a special-needs child has one idea--a universal disability pass. Other countries have it, but we don't.