The CEO of Frontier Airlines says passengers are abusing the airport's wheelchair service

Frontier Airlines plane seen at Cancun International Airport. On Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at Cancun International Airport, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Arthur Widak | Nurfoto | Getty Images

The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 requires airlines to provide wheelchairs to passengers with disabilities at the airport. The problem: many travelers pretend, Border airlines says CEO Barry Biffle.

“There is massive and rampant abuse of special services. There are people who use wheelchair assistance who don't need it at all,” Biffle said Thursday during a Wings Club luncheon in New York.

He said he has seen Frontier flights where 20 people were brought to the plane in wheelchairs, but only three wheelchairs were used upon arrival.

“We heal so many people,” he joked.

Biffle wasn't talking about travelers' personal wheelchairs, but about the service airlines provide when travelers arrive at the airport.

It costs the airline between $30 and $35 each time a customer requests a wheelchair, Biffle says, and misuse of the service leads to delays for travelers who really need help.

“Everyone should be entitled to it if they need it, but if you park in a handicapped spot, they will tow your car and give you a fine,” he told CNBC. “There should be the same punishment for misuse of these services.”

Earlier this year, the Transportation Department proposed stricter measures regulations aimed at preventing wheelchair damage by ground handlers at airports and ensuring “rapid assistance” to travelers with disabilities when boarding and disembarking the aircraft.

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