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Handicap Hustlers: Are people abusing wheelchair assistance?

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

It's the happiest place on earth, however, standing in long lines at Disney world is enough to make many people grumpy. 

Now some wealthy folks are paying up to a thousand bucks a day to hire disabled tour guides, so their kids can get to the front of the line to hop on their favorite ride.

We talked with Peter Scherrer an airport manager in Connecticut who said, "We've handled maybe a hundred wheelchairs a year. Now there are some certain times we can handle a hundred wheelchairs in a day."

Airports across the country see their share of wheelchairs. We checked in with Cleveland Hopkins airport and they told us passengers request wheelchair assistance through their airline, and a skycap pushes them right through TSA to their flight.

We also spoke with Kleo King of the United Spinal Association who said, "People who don't really need special assistance or have a disability sometimes do say they're a person with a disability to go through that special line or to the head of the line to get through security quicker."

Disability advocates are now blowing the whistle on able-bodied passengers who they say are playing the system to save time. It's tough to say exactly how many of the requests for wheelchairs are bogus, but Kleo King estimates it's about 15- percent nationwide.

That outrages traveler Barb Likos who is the mother of a special needs child.

"When people abuse the system it makes it harder for my child to access the accommodations that he needs, and it's frustrating and it's rude," explained Barb Likos.

But the airlines say they feel grounded when it comes to identifying cheaters. By law, they are required to give assistance to anyone who asks, or risk hefty fines.

Airline personnel tell us they're hearing more complaints about so-called "Miracle Flights."

"It's a phrase that's coined by a lot of the flight attendants. They see a person come on with a wheel chair and when they get to the destination, for some reason, they actually are able to walk again," said Peter Scherrer.

That part really bothers Barb, who says she has a simple solution.

"I think we need a universal disability pass. It's recognized legitimately throughout all the different places we would travel," said Likos.

It exists in other countries, but for right now it's  not here.

So the next time your standing in line just hope that the person in front of you is being honest and not faking a disability to get to the front.

We also spoke with Cedar Point officials who said in order to be fair to all guests there's no cutting in line.

Guests with limited mobility and three people riding with them can enter an alternate access entrance but only after their party waits in line.

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