Frontier Airlines says its facing 'widespread abuse' of wheelchair service

FILE - A person in a wheelchair pushed by an assistant in an airport. Getty Images

Frontier Airlines said Friday that there is an increasing number of people who are abusing the carrier's wheelchair system in order to get priority boarding. 

"There is widespread abuse among passengers using wheelchair services to move to the front of security lines and obtain priority boarding on flights," the carrier told FOX Business, adding that "the TSA and airlines are in a difficult position when it comes to managing the issue." 

The statement comes on the heels of Frontier CEO Barry Biffle's comments on the issue during a Wings Club luncheon in New York on Thursday, according to CNBC.  

Frontier's website states that it is "happy to provide services to our passengers who require wheelchair or mobility assistance" when boarding and deplaning its aircraft. 

However, the issue is "there are people using wheelchair assistance who don’t need it at all," Biffle said. 


He personally witnessed flights where 20 people have requested wheelchairs for departure, but only three used them upon landing. 

"There is massive, rampant abuse of special services," he said.

The airline told FOX Business that "a wheelchair registration or verification system is in order, along with legislation to address the issue and impose penalties for those who abuse the system."

This isn't the first time someone has raised concern over what some people have referred to as the "pre-boarding scam." 


In June 2023, a Southwest Airlines passenger posted online that several flyers may have found a way to take advantage of the carrier's wheelchair policy in order to be first in line to board a plane.

He claimed that there was a "pre-boarding scam" after witnessing 20 passengers requesting wheelchair assistance for his flight. 

"Pre-boarding scam at @SouthwestAir 20 passengers boarding using a wheelchair and probably only three need one to deplane," he posted on X alongside an image of several individuals sitting in wheelchairs at a terminal in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

During a separate flight, the passenger posted on social media again that 14 people on this trip requested wheelchairs, but only six used them to deplane. 

Southwest told the passenger that its pre-boarding policy is in compliance with Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) requirements and works "to provide appropriate accommodations" for everyone that flies with them. 

According to the Department of Transportation, the ACCA is "a law that makes it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disability."

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