The increased demand for wheelchair service by passengers at Las Américas International Airport has become a major headache for airlines and for flight operations at the terminal, causing disruptions in the boarding areas, and delays in the departure of flights due to the traumatic processes to embark travelers.
It is very common to see passengers on different flights request the use of a chair to access the services of the different airlines. The facility gives them the privilege of not standing in immigration lines and being able to board the aircraft first than other regular travelers.
Although in recent years the demand for the service has been growing, it was not until after the Covid-19 pandemic that the demand of people to receive the service increased considerably at the airport.
According to the data offered that emerge from a report prepared by the Airport’s Flight Operations Department, an average of 500 people are requesting this facility daily to board their flight, which would be affecting operations.
Before the coronavirus, the average number of people who requested the service to move from the line counter area to the boarding area was an average of 150 to 200 travelers per day in general.
Now instead, and according to the same data contained in the report, that figure has skyrocketed by more than 500 passengers per day who claim to be transported in wheelchairs. The crowding of passengers has become a headache for the airport’s flight operations authorities and for the airlines themselves.
The fact is that a single flight departs with 35 to 40 people who are grouped in the boarding area, in wheelchairs and hinder and create difficulties for the boarding operations of the other passengers who do not use the service. But in addition, according to airline reports, the situation causes delays in the departure of some flights.
Added to this ingredient is the situation that airlines have been going through for a long time after the pandemic due to the lack of people, such as pilots, stewardesses and flight attendants, a reason that is creating delays in departure and cancellation of operations in the country, and abroad.
The number of passengers who reserve the service of using a wheelchair upon departure is no longer exclusive to disabled and elderly people, but also to young people who do not show any physical impediment, but want to free themselves from immigration procedures.
These data establish if we multiply 500 passengers departing daily by 30 days, it would yield the number of 15,000 travelers per month who depart on regular flights that go mainly to North American territory.
30 or 40 people
In the Waiting Passengers area, inside the airport, an average of 35 to 40 people can be seen sitting in wheelchairs, waiting for the right moment to board the aircraft, as a result of the increase in this service.