The familiar drudgery was under way along the security line at Kennedy International Airport on a recent afternoon. Shoes were fumbled off feet, laptops unearthed from satchels and belts tugged from their loops. But mostly people waited, shuffled and waited as they wound their way to the front of the line.
Federal law requires wheelchairs to be given to those who request them, and airlines generally do not ask for proof of a disability before providing one.
But one couple had a different experience. Pushed along in the wheelchairs each airline provides by request, they whizzed past the line to a specially designated and briskly efficient Transportation Security Administration screener. Once cleared, the woman suddenly sprang up from her wheelchair, hoisted two huge carry-on bags from the magnetometer’s conveyor belt and plopped back in the wheelchair. She gave a nod to the person pushing her, and they rolled off to the gate.