輪椅被遺漏機艙 身障運動員徒手離機場

英國一名傷殘運動員Justin Levene,去年飛抵英國倫敦盧頓機場(Luton Airport)後,發現輪椅被遺漏在機艙上,加上機場未能提供手動輪椅或接載車讓他自行操作,最後靠雙手撐地離開機場。

Levene有感人格受辱,控告盧頓機場沒有為傷殘人士提供足夠支援。

事發2017年8月,Levene飛抵倫敦盧頓機場後,發現他的手動輪椅,被航空公司遺漏在機上,於是向機場人員查問,有否手動輪椅或接載車,讓他自行操作離開。

惟機場稱,只能提供由他人推動的輪椅。Levene拒絕接受,稱花了多年時間讓自己能獨立過活,若今次要由他人推輪椅,對他是侮辱和羞辱。

Levene最終選擇靠自己雙手在地支撐身軀移動,又坐上行李手推車,以手撐地借力離開機場。

他認為,遺漏輪椅的錯誤總有機會發生,但「我去過的機場,無論在哪裏、規模多小也好,總會有手動輪椅或接載車等設備」。

Levene現正控告盧頓機場,沒有為協助傷殘人士的機場人員提供足夠培訓。

機場一方回應指,發現Levene的輪椅被遺漏後,機場人員已設法想出解決方案,包括提供輪椅,只是Levene拒絕接受,對其不滿表示歉意。

Paraplegic man who dragged himself through terminal sues Luton Airport after refusing assisted wheelchair

Justin Levene is an international wheelchair marathon athlete from London, who was left paralysed below the waist and reliant on his wheelchair after an operation to fix a herniated disc went wrong.

Justin Levene, who dragged himself through a terminal at London’s Luton airport after his self-propelling wheelchair was left behind on a flight, is suing the airport.

But upon finding his self-propelled wheelchair had not arrived with him at Luton Airport in August last year, staff offered to push Levene through the airport on a high-backed chair — one he could not push himself.

He refused the assistance, saying he felt it removed his independence.

Levene asked if he could instead be transported in a motorised buggy, but Luton did not have one.

Now he is suing Luton Airport, telling the BBC that without his wheelchair, his independence “was no longer there”.

“I’ve worked very hard for a number of years to try and maintain all of my independence,” he said.

“And to be in one of the chairs they were offering would make me feel humiliated and degraded.

“They insisted in trying to strap me down in it. I wouldn’t have been able to adjust myself, and would have been at risk of getting a pressure sore.”

Footage shows Levene using his hands to move himself along the terminal’s floor, squeezing past other passengers before using a luggage trolley to make his way to a taxi outside the airport.

“Every single airport I’ve been to, no matter where it is, no matter how small the airport may have been, there has always been some form of equipment, whether it has been a self-propelled wheelchair or a buggy,” he said.

On his Instagram profile, Levene describes himself as a disability rights activist.

‘No empathy’ for need for independence

Levene’s athletics career has seen him travel around the globe, and he said he had never faced a situation like the one he found himself in at Luton, dragging himself across the floor for long distances.

He said he felt “humiliated” and staff were not able to empathise with his need for independence.

“I was angry that none of the staff seemed to understand the position or seemed to have any empathy for what was happening,” he said.

“There should be appropriate equipment in every single airport.

“If something does happen, no-one should be put in the position that they are forced to crawl through the airport or drag themselves along the floor.

“And there should be some form of equipment to move themselves independently. Someone whose chair is their legs shouldn’t be forced to be reliant on others for help.”

He is now suing the airport, saying it did not give adequate disability-equality-and-awareness training to staff responsible for providing mobility assistance.

Luton Airport said in a statement it was satisfied with its response.

“On discovering that Mr Levene’s flight had arrived without his wheelchair, our teams worked hard to find a solution, offering Mr Levene an assisted wheelchair as a temporary replacement,” the statement said.

“Mr Levene declined all offers of help as he deemed them unacceptable.

“While 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.”

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