'The wrong thing to be doing!' Outrage at airport queue jumpers who pretend to need wheelchairs

Peter Rhodes on great TV comedies, giving the Beeb a miss and cheats who travel by wheelchair.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow airport, reports that some passengers are skipping queues by pretending to need wheelchairs. With some understatement, he says this is “the wrong thing to be doing”.

Damn right it is. You may not believe anyone would be so blatantly dishonest. But we encountered one a few years ago on a package tour from Birmingham to the Italian Lakes.

She was a respectable, middle-aged woman wearing a neck brace and walking awkwardly. At Milan, accompanied by her travelling companion, she was whisked away in a wheelchair which meant she not only dodged the queues but also got the best seats on the coach.

Miraculously, once in Italy she walked normally and had no need of a wheelchair. In the vast amphitheatre at Verona we saw her skipping up and down the stone terraces as nimbly as a goat. But on the return leg to Milan airport the neck brace reappeared and her pitiful demeanour returned.

She was obviously a past master at turning on the agony to get the best service. And, my goodness, how she huffed and puffed when, for the return flight, Mrs Rhodes and I were singled out from 100 passengers and suddenly upgraded to first class.

Our “disabled” holidaymaker was simply out to cheat the system. She may have worn a neck brace but the only ailment she had was a brass neck.

How to qualify for an airline upgrade? You just have to look dead chic. It was my best anorak.

I wrote about resenting paying £159 for a TV licence and a Beeb worshipper takes me to task, pointing out that it's only 44p per day. If that was ever a good argument, it certainly isn't in an age of multi-channel TV when millions of us enjoy the best of drama, comedy and current affairs without tuning to the BBC.

There was little to interest me in last week's BBC schedules so I turned to streaming and enjoyed the earliest episodes of Cheers and Frasier. The first was not quite as funny as I remembered it, the second was funnier. And both were better than anything the Beeb was offering. Some days, even 44p is too much.

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