NEWS
24/03/2018 15:34 GMT | Updated 24/03/2018 15:44 GMT

BBC Journalist Frank Gardner Criticises Heathrow Airport's Treatment Of Disabled Passengers

'It’s a basic human right.'

A BBC journalist has criticised Heathrow Airport’s treatment of disabled people after he was kept waiting on a plane for nearly two hours while staff tried to locate his wheelchair.

Frank Gardner, who was returning to London on a flight from Ethiopia, was forced to wait on the stationary aircraft on Saturday morning when his wheelchair was taken to the terminal, rather than the plane door.

The BBC security correspondent posted updates on Twitter, saying he was “so utterly sick” of groundstaff losing his wheelchair.

“Just when is UK’s premier airport going to stop treating disabled passengers this way?”, he wrote on social media.

Gardner said it took 100 minutes for staff to locate his chair and bring it to the plane.

The journalist said: “Odd that I can travel round the Middle East and elsewhere without a hitch. Yet time and again Heathrow Airport loses my wheelchair on arrival.”

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson has apologised and said they are investigating.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Saturday, Gardener said: “There are hundreds, possibly thousands of others who suffer the same experience and all we get is these platitudes from Heathrow Airport, calling me by my first name and saying they have created a case number for you.

“Nothing changes, it goes on and on happening and it is so frustrating for people.”

Gardener added: “If you can’t walk and your wheelchair has been taken away into the terminal, that is your legs gone, that is your mobility gone.

“It’s a basic human right, so I am pretty seething about it.”

Heathrow has said that airlines and their ground staff are responsible for transporting wheelchairs, but Gardner said he was tired of everyone saying it is “down to someone else”.

He said: “Ultimately the buck stops with the airport.”

He continued: “I don’t know what possesses somebody to think ‘yeah, you know what, he or she probably doesn’t really need it, I think I’ll take it off to the terminal’. Why?”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We apologise unreservedly if the service Mr Gardner received today fell short of the experience we aim to provide to our passengers. We are working with the responsible airline to investigate what went wrong in this case.”