Disabled BBC journalist gets stuck on plane after crew lock themselves inside hydraulic lift

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
BBC journalist Frank Gardner was left stuck on a plane after hydraulic vehicle crew locked themselves in (Rex/Twitter/@FrankRGardner)

A disabled BBC journalist was left stuck on a plane at Heathrow Airport after hydraulic vehicle staff accidentally locked themselves in their own lift.

Frank Gardener, who was left needing a wheelchair after he was shot six times in an al-Qaeda gun attack in Saudi Arabia in 2004, found himself stuck inside his British Airways plane on Monday night.

The BBC’s security correspondent, who has frequently criticised Heathrow for leaving him alone on planes long after they have landed, tweeted: ‘Ok so this is so absurd it’s actually funny. 30 mins after landing at @HeathrowAirport I’m once again stuck on empty plane.

‘Hi-lift crew have managed to lock themselves inside their hydraulic cabin and can’t get out! BA crew being brilliant.’

After a little wait, BA cabin crew managed to help get Mr Gardner’s wheelchair out of the window of the hi-lift vehicle and bring it to the plane so he could get off.

Mr Gardner tweeted his thanks to the crew – but criticised Heathrow staff.

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He wrote: ‘Big thank you to the lovely crew of @British_Airways flight BA0873 today who found a resourceful way to get me off their plane when @HeathrowAirport failed to, again.’

Mr Gardner has complained about Heathrow’s treatment of disabled passengers time already this year.

In February he was left trapped on a plane at Heathrow on a flight back from Tunisia, while in March he was waiting on an empty plane at Heathrow for 100 minutes after his wheelchair was lost.

Mr Gardner has previously said British airports are particularly bad at helping disabled passengers off planes, and rarely suffers the same issues while abroad.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after the incident in March: ‘All we get are these platitudes from Heathrow airport. Nothing changes, it goes on and on happening.

‘If you can’t walk and your wheelchair has been taken into the terminal, that is your legs gone, that is your mobility gone. It’s a basic human right.’