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Passengers faking need for wheelchair to skip queues, Heathrow boss claims | Air transport

Airline passengers are skipping lines at Heathrow pretending to need wheelchairs after watching a video showing it on TikTok, the airport boss said.

John Holland-Kay, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, told LBC radio that some passengers were using available wheelchair support to try to get through the airport quickly, adding that it was “wrong”.

He told LBC: “The demand for wheelchair passengers is greater than before the pandemic. Why is this happening? This is partly due to people using wheelchair support to try and speed up airport travel. This is absolutely wrong.”

He added, “If you go to TikTok, you will see that this is one of the travel hacks that people recommend. Please don’t do this.”

In June, a TikTok user uploaded a video in which he pretended to have an injured ankle and was given a wheelchair on a flight from Ibiza to Bristol. The video showed the user taking off their shoes and was captioned: “Pretending to hurt my foot so I can get through security faster and get on the plane.”

Holland-Kay said about half of the arriving passengers who asked for help did so on the plane alone. He urged people who “really need a service” to let Heathrow know “well in advance so we can make sure there are enough people there to meet your needs”.

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Holland-Kay said the delays were partly due to passengers “traveling with more passengers than usual” and people who did not “register all their makeup” before going through security.

Many travelers using the airport this summer have experienced long queues, and a lack of staff is to blame. The airport has also capped the daily number of departing passengers at 100,000 this month to ease the pressure.

On Tuesday, the airport posted an adjusted loss before tax of £321m for the first half of 2022 after weeks of travel chaos. Holland Cay issued an ultimatum earlier this month to reassure the Department of Transportation that the airport has enough workers to check on security and assist passengers with disabilities.

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