Never Use This TikTok Travel ‘Hack’

Never Use This TikTok Travel ‘Hack’
Photo: Jim Lambert, Shutterstock

A “travel hack” is currently going viral on TikTok, promising to reliably get you to the front of the line when you’re boarding a flight and/or let you pass to the front of customs security lines. I’m not going to share the videos, because they’re trash, but it works like this: You pretend you’re injured, even going as far as saying you need a wheelchair. The airline isn’t going to call you a liar; they’re going to load you in a wheelchair and push you to the front of the line so you can pre-board and use up all the carry-on space. Sometimes they’ll hustle you past that long line at security, too. This is what is known as an arsehole move.

Pretending to need disability accommodations is great for you, but not for the people who actually need the wheelchair you’re sitting in, and not for the people you just hopped in front of. If you take advantage of others like this, you’re being a bad person.

Yet apparently there are a lot of bad people out there. Feigning injury has become so popular that Heathrow Airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye named it as one of the reasons Heathrow has been such a nightmare for travellers lately.

“For passengers requiring wheelchair support, we have had more demand than we’ve had before the pandemic. Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to get fast tracked through the airport,” Holland-Kaye told London Broadcast Company. “That’s absolutely the wrong thing to be doing. We need to protect that for the people who most need help,” he added.

I don’t usually agree with CEOs who blame their company’s problems on consumers, but in this case, I’m making an exception, even if part of the problem is undoubtedly an ongoing shortage of workers willing to accept the low pay they apparently give to airport-assisters-of-the-disabled. Whatever the cause, it’s very bad when more than 20 disabled passengers are left stranded at an airport gate in a single day, as reportedly recently happened at Heathrow.

How to ethically get through airport security faster

There are ways you can speed your trip through that dreaded customs checkpoint on your next vacation that don’t involve being a total bastard.

  • Book flights for the morning: Early departures are less likely to have long wait times at security and are less likely to be delayed.
  • Dress correctly and organise your carry-on: It’s amateur hour to show up with forbidden items in your carry-on or wearing hard-to-remove shoes.
  • Have your ID and tickets/boarding pass ready: The number of people who seem surprised when they’re asked for boarding passes and IDs at security is shockingly high.
  • Have patience: Once you’re past customs and waiting for your flight to board, simply accept that you’re in Group B, and that the plane will leave at the same time whether you board it first or last.

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