“The Miraculous Healing Power Of Flight”: Outrage At Pre-boarders In Wheelchairs Leaving On Foot

“The Miraculous Healing Power Of Flight”: Outrage At Pre-boarders In Wheelchairs Leaving On Foot

An airline is being slammed for letting passengers get away with faking mobility issues in order to secure the best possible seats inside the plane. American low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is known for its first-board, first-serve policy regarding seats. Southwest makes an exception for passengers who use a wheelchair, giving them priority boarding like many other airlines.

This exception has reportedly made many passengers line up in a wheelchair provided by the airline, only to get up and walk out of the terminal after reaching their destination—after the so-called “miracle flights.” Passengers are not allowed to select a seat but are assigned a letter (A, B, or C) and a number (1 through 60). They line up in numerical order within each letter group and, after entering the aircraft, choose whichever seat is available. 

Southwest Airlines is being slammed for letting passengers get away with the questionable “miracle flight” scam

On Tuesday (May 14), a passenger named Stephanie took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to complain about a group of women who had allegedly gotten away with the pre-boarding scam.

“The Miraculous Healing Power Of Flight”: Outrage At Pre-boarders In Wheelchairs Leaving On Foot

“Hey @SouthwestAir These 4 young girls and their parents were able to pre-board on my flight Sunday! They did not need assistance or extra time for seating! Do better with your gate agents stopping this! I paid extra for business class to get better seating!”

While flyers don’t have the option to pick their seats, a system called “Upgraded Boarding” gives passengers the chance to upgrade their boarding position to A1-A15 24 hours before the flight, depending on availability, according to the Dallas-based company’s site.

 The low-cost airline is known for its first-board, first-serve policy regarding seats

Responding to the video, which shows the four women walking around the airport with their luggage, a Southwest Airlines employee wrote, “We regret any frustration, Stephanie. As many disabilities aren’t visible, we’re unable to question preboarding requests.”

The claims of people carrying out the deceiving strategy to secure better seats and benefit from access to overhead bin space are not new. 

Last year, X user @ElonBachman posted photos of a group of passengers lining up to board a flight in wheelchairs.

“A friend shares a not-uncommon sight from Puerto Rico: 55 ‘handicapped’ during pre-boarding, including 25 wheelchairs. On his return flight, 15 used wheelchairs to board, only 1 to deboard.”

Southwest makes an exception for passengers who use a wheelchair, giving them priority boarding like many other airlines

In another alleged case of a “miracle flight,” user @Dave_Ruminates wrote, “Another flight on @SouthwestAir, and I’m happy to report being witness to more miracles. These poor souls came seeking a flight, and instead were healed. Always grateful for witnessing the miraculous healing power of flight.”

Southwest makes an exception for passengers who use a wheelchair, giving them priority boarding like many other airlines

As Dave explained, there were seven wheelchair users for boarding and only one request for a wheelchair to meet the passengers on the ramp when deplaning.

Passengers have reported that a group of flyers has taken advantage of this exception, faking a disability to have priority boarding and access to overhead bin space

In April, Southwest Airlines announced a variety of changes, including the potential for new seating assignments.

Passengers have reported that a group of flyers has taken advantage of this exception, faking a disability to have priority boarding and access to overhead bin space

“We’re looking at new initiatives, the way we seat and the way we board our aircraft,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in an interview with CNBC, adding the company was “studying [its] seating and [its] cabin” to drive up revenue. 

Analysts have repeatedly asked the low-cost airline about opportunities for premium seating or additional fees. (Southwest doesn’t charge travelers for their first two checked bags.)

Hey @SouthwestAir These 4 young girls & their parents were able to pre board on my flight Sunday! They did not need assistance or extra time for seating! Do better with your gate agents stopping this! I paid extra for business class to get better seating!

Responding to the complaint, the company said, “as many disabilities aren’t visible, we’re unable to question preboarding requests“

Your pre boarding states people who have difficulty or extra time with seating. These girls, as well as many others who are allowed to pre board didn’t have difficulty walking or getting seats. They had no medical devises, either.

Responding to the complaint, the company said, “as many disabilities aren’t visible, we’re unable to question preboarding requests“

“Additionally, we are evaluating options to enhance our Customer Experience as we study product preferences and expectations, including onboard seating and our cabin,” Jordan said.

The announcement of possible changes to its single-class, open-seating cabins comes after Southwest reported a net loss of $231 million for the first quarter of 2024.

Hey @SouthwestAir These 4 young girls & their parents were able to pre board on my flight Sunday! They did not need assistance or extra time for seating! Do better with your gate agents stopping this! I paid extra for business class to get better seating!

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