Some passengers stretch definition of 'disabled' for early boarding

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Sep 10, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://seattletimes.com/html/travel/2019116001_webdisabledboarding10.html

    In scramble to get seats, and carry-on luggage space, some Southwest Airlines travelers are categorizing themselves as disabled, says disgruntled frequent flier.

    Q.I fly on a weekly basis with Southwest Airlines. Out of all the big carriers (United, American and Delta), Southwest has figured out how to treat the business passenger well. My only concern with Southwest is their disabled preboarding policy.

    Every time I fly, I am astonished by the increasing number of people claiming to be disabled and taking advantage of the preboarding. Let me be the first to say that I completely support preboarding for anyone legitimately battling a physical and/ or mental disability. What concerns me is that I have experienced on numerous occasions individuals, who claim eligibility for this policy, "spring out" of their wheelchairs and take off down the jetway like Fred Astaire without any noticeable challenge. My concern is that people are now abusing a program that was set up for people who honestly need assistance. I am just appalled by this type of self-serving behavior.

    Also, last I checked, being over the age of 65 doesn't qualify you as disabled and allow you to cheat your way in front of families with multiple children and business travelers who paid three times the fare that these scammers did.

    Read More: http://seattletimes.com/html/travel/2019116001_webdisabledboarding10.html
     
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't think there's any good solution (I doubt that airline employees are allowed to ask for the details of the disability and then judge its validity). That said, I always figured it would be more relaxing for everyone if those folks were to board last to sit comfortably in the boarding area until the mad scramble has finished.
     
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  3. savingrace

    savingrace Silver Member

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    I have MS and need to pre board. I also look completely normal.

    But I have to agree, as I look around at the people pushing on me as I am pre boarding, I have to wonder how many truly need to be there? I think one should need a doctors script (of some sort) to show to airline personnel when checking in, to get a pre boarding pass. A bright yellow tag to wear around our necks or something... ;)
     
  4. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Fortunately, only the first row of seats can be grabbed by the pseudo disabled. They cannot sit in the Exits. And I have seen FA's remove someone from the Exit row that boarded as a disabled.

    The only other seat that I would worry about is the seat behind the "missing seat" in the Exit row. The one with about 6 feet of leg room. But I can never get that one anyway.
     
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  5. iterfacio12

    iterfacio12 Silver Member

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    Why couldn't you just have a requirement card like they do for parking spaces? That being said, I have no idea how you get a disabled parking card in the first place.
     
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  6. ConsultingChris

    ConsultingChris Silver Member

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    Disabled parking cards are issued by Doctors. You could make it a requirement, but many truly disabled people don't drive so they might not have the cards.

    This is one of those things that would be nice to enforce, but it would be a challenge to implement. You just have to rely on the honesty of most people and hope karma bites the people that are using it without having to.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Not sure about other states, but in CA the actual placard is issued by the DMV. It does require a doctor's certification on the application.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg195.pdf

    From what I read, it's more a problem of too many people having the placard. Or using one issued to a friend or relative because it allows them free unlimited parking in places like San Francisco where parking can be difficult to find and is expensive.

    I am really not sure that it would be worth creating a whole new process for this. I'd be happy if they restricted the number of companions for early boarders (small children or people who "just need a bit of extra time") to one. Don't think it's right or fair to see a group of five board with an infant.
     
  8. E170

    E170 Silver Member

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    I've thought asking for a wheel chair would be a great way to skip the giant TSA lines at Denver. I don't because I have CLEAR, but I've seen normal looking people spiritedly walk up to check in and roll past the line at TSA. I would prefer for security (pre-boarding saves the whole plane time, though I get why WN flyers are pissed), that the wheel chairs wait in line too (it will also help me pick my lane). Let's really treat everyone the same (unless you pay more, then it's game on).
     
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  9. ConsultingChris

    ConsultingChris Silver Member

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    Agree that it would be too complex.

    It is WN, so maybe they should put out a memo telling gate agents and flight attendants to deliver some of their trademark snarky humor towards those who they can tell don't need to board early. Use peer pressure and guilt to prevent future abuse of the system.
     
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  10. Majikow

    Majikow Silver Member

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    I think the only solution to this issue is karma.

    I know we in this community tend to want to try and game the system, and normally, as long as it's within reason, I'm all for it. However there are places where you have to draw the line. If you pretend to be handicapped to get a better seat or get through a line, I think that's pretty much the lowest of the low. For no other reason than if people start abusing the system it's going to make it harder for those who are truly handicapped. I'm not handicapped myself, but I travel once or twice a year with my mother who had a stroke, and it's really tough, so I truly feel for those who have to do it on their own. People that get busted doing this should be publicly shamed. I'm not suggesting we bring back the stocks, but it's the only deterrent since most people know that an airline agent isn't going to question their disability.
     
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  11. carwag25

    carwag25 Gold Member

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    I am sure this is a tough one for the airlines to enforce, because some of the early boarders may look fine, but have serious medical issues. I usually request a wheelchair due to medical issues that cause severe pain in my leg, however, when I walk, I likely look normal to most people. Hard to judge a book by its cover as they say.
     
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  12. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    I'll suggest it! :D :cool:
     
  13. LIH Prem
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    LIH Prem Gold Member

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  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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  15. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    Apologies if this question comes off as ignorant, but is there a reason wheelchair users don't wait in the security line like everyone else? Is it to avoid tying up the pushers for a long period of time? I understand the need for a special screening process, but could it be done in the regular screening area? I'm thinking of the way opt-outs are processed by just moving them to a area just behind or to the side of the scanners/detectors.

    I'm also thinking of the way the local theme parks handle wheelchair users- there are no pushers (but chairs are available), and wheelchair users wait in the same lines as everyone else. The only difference is that they may have to wait for a special ride car or a pause in the ride to board.
     
  16. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Lizzy, I think it is because it does take longer for Wheelchairs to be screened. Not just because of the Pushers.

    And most Theme Parks will have a separate line for Wheelchairs. And they only allow one or two per ride. Was great being the pusher for my Mom at Disney, we always went to the front. May have had about a 10 minute wait. but did not have to deal with 45-90 minute lines.
     
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  17. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    People who take unreasonable advantage of the wheelchair approach are clearly ethically challenged. My 88 year old mother refuses to use them because she doen't see herself as disabled. She does have a replacement hip, but it works well. That being said, I had a friend with severe COPD who absolutely needed the wheelchair, but for short distances could pop up and look fine. He used to get evil looks when parking in a handicapped spot, but he couldn't walk more than 200 feet without sitting or his blood oxygen levels would drop him right there. As long as we don't get long lines of wheelchairs slowing us all up, I intend to ignore them.
     
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