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Miracles at the airport

Miracles regularly occur at US airports. A passenger requests a wheelchair and gets pushed to the front of the security line.

After the screening he jumps up out of the chair, grasps his carry-ons and rushes off into the terminal.

Airlines are legally required to provide free wheelchair service to any passenger who requests it and without description or documentation.

Travelers can reserve in advance, but also at the last minute. The rule is that wheelchair requests are filled on a first-come basis. Thus, a 10:00 am walk-up request can claim an attendant waiting for a 10:15 am reservation.

It is estimated that 15% of all passengers requesting wheelchair service do not have any medical need, but rather a variety of other reasons.

For example, they are late and want to cut to the front of the security line, they do not want to carry their hand luggage themselves, they want early boarding, they want to avoid long lines for immigration, etc.

Costs to an airline can reach more than $40 (€30) per wheelchair run because an attendant often spends more than an hour on each passenger.

What might curb abuse is to give priority to those who made advance wheelchair requests, which are widely seen as legitimate. Walk-ins should be served after those who reserved chairs.

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