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. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
THE boss of Heathrow airport has pleaded with passengers not to fake the need for wheelchairs to skip long security queues at the airport, according to media reports.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye told LBC radio that people are using this ‘hack’ after watching a video on TikTok.
“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,” Holland-Kaye was quoted as saying by LBC.
“That’s absolutely the wrong thing to be doing – we need to protect that for the people who most need help.”
Last month, a TikTok user uploaded a video of themselves having pretended to have an injured ankle and been given a wheelchair while flying from Ibiza to Bristol.
Now the airport boss wants to know ‘well in advance’ the need for a wheelchair to make arrangements.
According to Holland-Kaye, the recent delays were partly caused by passengers “travelling with more than they normally would” and people failing to “check in all of their makeup” before going through security.
On Tuesday (26), Heathrow said a decision to cap flight numbers after it struggled to cope with a rebound in travel had delivered a marked improvement in punctuality and baggage handling.
The airport capped the number of passenger departures at 100,000 a day earlier this month to limit queues, baggage delays and cancellations, to the consternation of some airlines.
The airport reported an adjusted pretax loss of £321 million for the first half of 2022, after weeks of travel chaos.
Media reports said that the issue of passengers faking disabilities was first raised earlier in June with transport secretary Grant Shapps.