Images have been released of a disabled man who dragged himself through Luton Airport after his self-propelled wheelchair was left on a flight and the airport was unable to provide equipment the passenger felt was dignified.
Justin Levene can be seen in the footage dragging himself through the terminal building on his hands and later on a baggage trolley during the incident, which happened in August 2017.
Luton Airport insists that it offered Mr Levene alternative equipment to travel through the airport but said he refused the offer.
Mr Levene, who is a wheelchair athlete and disability rights activist, said that he was angry about his custom wheelchair being left behind and felt that he was being denied his independence, according to the Evening Standard.
He told the newspaper: “When I arrived in Luton from Croatia they told me my wheelchair was left behind and there was no available equipment to use.
“What they offered me wasn’t a wheelchair – these things are on shopping trolley wheels.
“There is no way you can propel yourself on one, you have to be pushed on someone else, and that’s what this was all about. It’s humiliating to be pushed around.
“Someone who isn’t aware of what it’s like to use a wheelchair won’t understand how important your independence is to you. It was humiliating.”
The airport was not able to offer Mr Levene motorised equipment either and so he proceeded to pull himself along the floor.
He added: “The other thing is what were they expecting me to do when I got home? Other airports have equipment that people can take home with them in these situations.”
A spokesman for London Luton Airport said its passenger assistance service is rated ‘good’ by the Civil Aviation Authority.
He told the Evening Standard: “On discovering that Mr Levene’s flight from Croatia had arrived without his wheelchair, in August 2017, our teams worked hard to find a solution, offering Mr Levene an assisted wheelchair as a temporary replacement. Mr Levene declined all offers of help.
“Whilst we apologise if Mr Levene was dissatisfied with the service he received, we are satisfied that our agents and staff did all they could in difficult circumstances.”
Image: Justin Levene