Authorization

Belfast airport turns away wheelchair user due to repair kit

Belfast airport turns away wheelchair user due to repair kit

Steve Smithers says he will not fly again after his experience
A disabled man was not allowed to get on a flight from Belfast because his wheelchair repair kit was deemed a security risk. Steve Smithers was turned away at the security check and missed his flight to see his sick father. He was travelling to London Gatwick to visit the 79-year-old, who is about to start treatment for cancer. Belfast International Airport has apologised and will make a donation to a local charity on Mr Smithers' behalf. The repair kit, which he said is essential for wheelchair users, contains several spanners and a wheel nut.
"When I booked this trip, all I wanted to do was to get to see my seriously ill father. "I have travelled extensively over the 11 years I have been paralysed and there have never been any problems preventing me from doing so independently," said Mr Smithers, who is paralysed from the chest down.
Mr Smithers says he has never had trouble at security with his tool kit before
He said security staff claimed the spanners would be a security risk because they could be used to "dismantle the plane".Mr Smithers has had to postpone his trip until the end of August and does not want to fly again.
'Nobody would listen'
Mr Smithers said the security gate supervisor at Belfast International Airport, near Templepatrick in County Antrim, told him he would have to put his bag with the tool kit - which also contained his catheter and diabetes medication - in the hold.But, he said, the security supervisor also told him if he put his bag in the hold he would not have time to make it back through security in time for his flight.
Belfast International Airport has apologised to Mr Smithers
Mr Smithers said when he suggested that he could give the spanners to the cabin crew until landing, security said this was also not possible.
"I just wanted someone to listen to me," said Mr Smithers. He said that he is a seasoned traveller, having travelled to Australia and the United States on his own, but has never been refused access through security before. In a statement, a spokesperson for Belfast International said it acknowledged Mr Smithers had a distressing experience at the airport security search point. "As the treatment experienced by Mr Smithers during this process fell well below standards expected from security personnel, in order to remedy this, the airport will be immediately reviewing customer service and escalation procedures with our security provider ICTS," it said.
'With dignity'
Mr Smithers said he tried to explain to security that he needed the tool kit in case his wheels broke and that he would need to adjust his wheelchair to fit a hire care he had booked for his arrival at Gatwick.When he rang the car hire company it confirmed that there were no mechanics on site and would not be able to make the adjustments for him when he arrived.
Mr Smithers wants to raise awareness to help disabled persons flying
Lisa Clydesdale, Mr Smithers' partner, said he was "literally in tears" trying to explain his predicament. He said he had no choice but to miss his flight.Both EasyJet and the car hire company have refunded him in full. EasyJet also offered compensation to apologise for a delay retrieving his baggage. Belfast International Airport contacted Mr Smithers to apologise and offer him compensation, but Ms Clydesdale said they suggested the airport donate to a local disability charity instead. "For disabled people it is not about asking for special treatment, but simply wanting the opportunity to live life as unimpaired by our disabilities as is possible, and to be allowed to do so with dignity," said Mr Smithers."On this occasion, it was particularly pertinent for me as this was the last opportunity I would have to see my father before he starts chemotherapy but no disabled person should have to experience this, regardless of the circumstances for their trip."
Belfast
Disability
Belfast International Airport
See also:
Leave a comment
News
  • Latest
  • Read
  • Commented
Calendar Content
«    Август 2018    »
ПнВтСрЧтПтСбВс
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031