Belfast Airport Turns Away Wheelchair User Due To Repair Kit

Air Travel


By Leanna Byrne, BBC News NI.


A disabled man was unable to board a flight from Belfast because his wheelchair repair kit was deemed a security risk.

Steve Smithers, 48, was turned away at security and missed his flight to see his sick father, who is about to start treatment for cancer.

He said staff claimed the spanners could be used to “dismantle the plane”.

Belfast International Airport has apologised and will make a donation to a charity on Mr Smithers’ behalf.

The repair kit, which he said was essential for wheelchair users, contains several spanners and a wheel nut.

“When I booked this trip, all I wanted to do was to get to see my seriously-ill father,” said Mr Smithers, who is paralysed from the chest down after a motorbike accident.

“I have travelled extensively over the 11 years I have been paralysed and there have never been any problems preventing me from doing so independently.”

Mr Smithers, who lives in Killinchy, County Down, has had to postpone his trip to Essex to visit his 76-year-old father Joe until the end of August, but he does not want to fly again.


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