Disabled journalist Frank Gardner stranded on plane at Gatwick for fifth time

1 July 2022, 10:36

BBC News Security Correspondent and wheelchair user Frank Gardner has been left stranded on a plane at Gatwick Airport after returning from the NATO Summit in Madrid.
BBC News Security Correspondent and wheelchair user Frank Gardner has been left stranded on a plane at Gatwick Airport after returning from the NATO Summit in Madrid. Picture: Alamy

By Cameron Kerr

Journalist Frank Gardner, who was paralysed after he was shot by Al Qaeda in 2004, was left stranded on a plane at Gatwick airport again, after returning from the NATO summit in Madrid.

Mr Gardner said on Twitter that the cabin crew on his flight had left the plane, and the crew for the next flight to leave Gatwick had entered the plane before he eventually got help.

This is not the first time the BBC journalist has had a similar experience, having been left on planes at UK airports multiple times in recent years.

"Just why are UK airports so consistently crap at getting disabled people off planes?"

Mr Gardner was delayed for 20 minutes, with Gatwick airport saying that Iberia Express, the airline Mr Gardner was flying with, had not booked a special assistance booking with the airport's ground crew.

According to Mr Gardner, the ground crew had said 'nobody told us there was a disabled passenger on board'.

Due to the narrow width of aisles between seats on airplanes, a specially configured wheelchair is required to get wheelchair users on and off airplanes.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: “We strive to provide the best possible service to all passengers so will continue to look into this with Wilson James and the airline concerned."

“We apologise again for any delay Mr Gardner experienced returning from the Nato summit in Madrid.”

The incident comes after last month a passenger with restricted mobility died at Gatwick airport after going up an escalator without a helper.

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