Do you love to travel? If so, you have plenty of good reasons to head to the airport to take a flight, so you can relax poolside at a luxurious retreat.
After all, you need downtime as much as anyone else. Everyday problems with your children and grandchildren add up.
Stresses from paying bills, going to work, dealing with a computer that suddenly goes dark also add up. Stress is stress and we all need to get away from it, at least for a little while.
That is one reason why this scam we're about to describe is so outrageous! Scammers are inconveniencing people just like you who are trying to escape from everyday stress and, yet, they're whacked with a huge, unnecessary stress at the airport.
Worse, these scammers are targeting the most vulnerable travelers. If you have ever sprained your ankle, twisted your back or broken a bone, you may have needed wheelchair assistance at an airport.
Maybe you need a wheelchair every time you travel. Beware - Scammers are making your trip to the airport much worse!
The problem is, if you need a wheelchair because you simply cannot walk to the airport gate, you may not get one. This scam is getting really bad.
Here's What You Must Know
If you need a wheelchair at the airport, you know how helpful that can be. You just go to the airport, ask for assistance or go to a designated space where wheelchairs are stored.
Then, the best part. Rather than struggling to walk to your gate, you are wheeled there.
Plus, you're given first position in line at the gate. You've heard the airport staff announce pre-boarding for families with young children and people in wheelchairs.
Of course, the idea is to be compassionate. The airport is helping people who legitimately need the help.
Here's where the scam comes in. And here's why you might be left without a wheelchair next time you arrive at the airport.
People who do not need a wheelchair are taking them. It's not against the law, either.
There's a term for this. Airport employees call these, "Miracle flights."
It's a miracle because people arrive at the airport in need of a wheelchair. They're pushed by an employee to the gate and, of course, they're boarded first along with young children.
Then, it's a miracle! These wheelchair passengers suddenly start walking once on the plane. The scam is, they are on the plane and hardworking people like you have to wait.
That's bad enough, but you know what that means these days. The scammers put their overhead bags on the plane long before you get on.
When you do, there's no room for you. Worse, you might be stuck paying for your luggage.
Outrageous, right? So, what can you do about it?
A Problem with No Solution (Yet)
You will simply not believe this. This problem has gotten so out of control that on one flight, just one flight there were 178 people in wheelchairs waiting to board the plane.
This scam is heartbreaking because of the people being inconvenienced - people with mobility issues. It's also heartbreaking because it's ruining an American tradition: the honor system.
You've witnessed this yourself. You may have seen fully functional teenagers, for instance, using wheelchairs or electric scooters in malls or grocery stores.
They don't need to use them, but they do. Of course, people who really do have mobility issues are left to walk or wait until the scammers return the wheelchairs.
The Department of Transportation does not currently require anyone to reserve wheelchairs in advance. So, scammers just grab them.
Here's What You Can Do
First, contact the Department of Transportation and tell them you want a rule allowing people to prove they need a wheelchair at the airport. Call your Congressperson to tell them that, too. Find your Representative here.
Second, make sure your airline knows that you'll need a wheelchair at the airport. If you're working with a travel agent, be sure to tell them.
Or if you're booking your flight online, search the site for accessibility issues. Or simply call your airline and let them know you'd like to have a wheelchair waiting for you.
Don't be fooled by these sneaky airport scams
Here are three more outrageous airport scams. These scams are tricking every traveler out of their money, regardless of your mobility.