Airline passengers are skipping queues at Heathrow by pretending to need wheelchairs after watching a video showing this on TikTok, the airport’s boss has said.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow airport, told LBC radio that some passengers were using the wheelchair support available to try to get fast-tracked through the airport, adding that this was “the wrong thing to be doing”.
He told LBC: “For passengers requiring wheelchair support we have more demand than we had before the pandemic. Why is that happening? Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to try to get fast-track through the airport. That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing.”
He added: “If you go on TikTok you’ll see that that is one of the travel hacks that people are recommending. Please don’t do that.”
In June a TikTok user uploaded a video of themselves having pretended to have an injured ankle and been given a wheelchair while flying from Ibiza to Bristol. The video showed the user removing their shoe, and was captioned: “Faking hurting my leg to get through security faster and on to the plane.”
Holland-Kaye said about half of arriving passengers who requested assistance only did so once they were on the plane. He urged people who “really need the service” to let Heathrow know “well in advance so we can make sure there are enough people there to meet your needs”.
Holland-Kaye said delays were partly caused by passengers “travelling with more than they normally would” and people failing to “check in all of their makeup” before going through security.
Many travellers using the airport this summer have faced long queues, with the situation blamed on staff shortages. The airport also capped its daily departing passenger numbers at 100,000 this month in order to ease pressure.
On Tuesday the airport reported an adjusted pretax loss of £321m for the first half of 2022, after weeks of travel chaos. Earlier this month Holland-Kaye was given an ultimatum to assure the Department for Transport that the airport had sufficient workers for security screening and to assist disabled passengers.
… we have a small favour to ask. Millions are turning to the Guardian for open, independent, quality news every day, and readers in 180 countries around the world now support us financially.
We believe everyone deserves access to information that’s grounded in science and truth, and analysis rooted in authority and integrity. That’s why we made a different choice: to keep our reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This means more people can be better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.
In these perilous times, a truth-seeking global news organisation like the Guardian is essential. We have no shareholders or billionaire owner, meaning our journalism is free from commercial and political influence – this makes us different. When it’s never been more important, our independence allows us to fearlessly investigate, challenge and expose those in power