Paraplegic athlete Justin Levene ‘forced’ to drag himself through Luton Airport after wheelchair was left behind on flight

A paraplegic man is suing Luton Airport after dragging himself hundreds of yards in “humiliation” when his wheelchair was left abroad.

Footage shows Justin Levene, from north London, battling to move through the airport on his hands as other passengers seem oblivious.

He is now suing over the incident, which happened in August 2017. However a spokesman for Luton Airport said he was offered assistance and turned it down.

The 30-year-old was left paralysed 10 yeas ago after damaging a spinal disc during a coughing fit, but after an operation to correct his injury went wrong he lost the ability to walk.

The disability rights activist and wheelchair racer has since travelled the world completing marathons and is a trainer and mentor to others who use wheelchairs.

In the images released on Friday he is shown pulling himself across the airport on his hands. He even climbed onto a baggage trolley as he battled to get to his taxi while onlookers seemed unphased.

A Luton Airport spokesman staff offered to give him an assisted wheelchair, which requires someone to push it, but he refused to accept it.

Mr Levene said he was angry when he was told his custom-made wheelchair had been left behind, and said he felt as though staff had denied him his independence.

The disability rights activist and wheelchair racer has since travelled the world completing marathons and is a trainer and mentor to others who use wheelchairs.

In the images released on Friday he is shown pulling himself across the airport on his hands. He even climbed onto a baggage trolley as he battled to get to his taxi while onlookers seemed unphased.

A Luton Airport spokesman staff offered to give him an assisted wheelchair, which requires someone to push it, but he refused to accept it.

Mr Levene said he was angry when he was told his custom-made wheelchair had been left behind, and said he felt as though staff had denied him his independence.

He said he asked for a motorised buggy but the airport didn’t have one, so pulling his legs along the floor was only option.

Mr Levene 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.”

Mr Levene said he has competed in various major international marathons and hand cycling races, and uses sport to raise funds for disability charities.

He is currently raising to build a school in Moldova for orphans and victims fo sex trafficking, where scores of children are affected with disabilities.

He said: “I work with them to build that same ability to live independently, and show them there can be a way forward after what they’ve been through.”

London Luton Airport said it has not been served any legal proceedings by Mr Levene, and its special assistance service was given a rating of “good” by the Civil Aviation Authority.

A spokesman added: “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”.

Sue Willman, a partner at Justin’s solicitors, Deighton Pierce Glynn, said the case “isn’t really about money, it’s about access to justice”, the BBC reported.

“It’s time for Luton Airport and other transport providers to be a bit more imaginative and enable disabled people to travel on equal terms with non-disabled passengers,” she added.
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