The New York Times notes that as airport security waits have lengthened, the number of people pretending to need airline-supplied wheelchairs seems to have risen as travelers realize that they'll get pushed to the head of the line.
Sometimes the fraud happens in plain sight: a customer waiting in line will suddenly request a chair after seeing one whiz through security, said Evelyn Danquah, a wheelchair pusher for Delta Air Lines. The more dramatic will suddenly start walking with a limp. “When they see that the line is so long,” she said, “they just ask for a wheelchair.” Ms. Danquah said their recoveries can happen just as quickly: almost as soon as security is cleared, some stand up and walk off. At first it shocked her, she said, but she explained that now she was used to it. Dubinder Kaur, another wheelchair attendant for Delta, agreed: “They say, ‘Ma’am, I feel better — I can go by myself.'" As security checks have become increasingly stringent, the number of people exploiting the loophole seems to have risen, said Peter Greenberg, the travel editor for CBS News and the author of a dozen books on travel. He said it was common to see departure gates full of wheelchairs, especially in places like Palm Beach, where populations are older. Once the plane has taxied to the gate in Florida, however, many supposedly injured passengers exit on foot. The ends-justify-the-means approach may work, Mr. Greenberg said, but to his mind fakers pay another price. “I’m a big believer in karma,” he said. “You don’t put on a dress when the Titanic is going down so you can get in the first lifeboat.”The above-linked story observes that the scam is helped along by the chair-pushers who rely on tips. Flight attendants who work the most faker-laden routes call them "miracle flights" because of all that mid-air healing.