An increasing number of travellers are faking disabilities to skip to the front of check-in, security and boarding queues at airports.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the practice is becoming extremely common and airline staff are referring to it as 'miracle flights' to describe how some passengers require a wheelchair to board an aircraft but depart without it.
Genuine passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) are entitled to free assistance and permitted to cut queues at the airport. Support can be requested at the time of booking or during check-in but a proof of disability is not required, prompting able-bodied travellers to exploit the policy.
However, the scam doesn't work so well when a passenger arrives at their destination as disabled travellers are the last to exit the plane.
'We'd say there was a miracle because they all needed a wheelchair getting on, but not getting off,' American Airlines flight attendant Kelly Skyles told the New York Times.
'Not only do we serve beverages and ensure safety - now we're healing the sick.'
One Birmingham Airport worker told the Sunday Times: 'I've seen people sail through security in wheelchairs, then watched them wandering around the shops before being driven to the gate.'
She added: 'When they see that the line is so long they just ask for a wheelchair.'
ISS World, which provides assistance at Stansted, said the number of requests had increased annually by around eight to 10 per cent in recent years.
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