“My chair was destroyed,” the elite swimmer tweeted early Saturday, after discovering his wheelchair “utterly damaged” upon touchdown at London’s Heathrow Airport on his solution to compete at his first Paralympics in Tokyo.
“It is so devastating,” he informed a small group of reporters on Wednesday.
“It actually is totally upending for you,” he stated.
Flanagan stated his wheelchair, which he known as “my independence,” was dented and scraped, and its wheels now not spin.
“That is simply not how we must be handled,” he stated from Tokyo Wednesday. “That is not how our wheelchairs should be handled as a result of they’re so essential to us, and it is only a message to the business normally that extra accountability must be taken across the concern.”
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“The employees at Heathrow have been extraordinarily apologetic,” he wrote over the weekend. “However sadly an apology does little or no for me.”
“We’re sorry to listen to that your wheelchair was broken in transit to Heathrow and perceive how distressing this is able to have been,” the airport replied to his tweet, including that it could work with the unnamed airline and origin airport to research what occurred and the right way to keep away from future cases.
“At Heathrow, we’re decided to offer a welcoming and accessible airport that ensures all passengers can journey in the best way the select with the dignity and care they anticipate, and we will probably be in contact with Mr. Flanagan to make sure his future journey by way of Heathrow is as easy as attainable,” the airport stated in an announcement to USA TODAY.
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Customized chairs usually are not simply changed, and they are often very costly, working upwards of $10,000.
“It isn’t a case of taking place to the store, making an attempt it out, choosing up the following day,” Flanagan informed USA TODAY. “It is a important time period that you will be left in a very powerful state of affairs.” Between orders and a number of fittings, he stated the entire course of often takes him half a yr.
“However not all wheelchair customers are fortunate sufficient to have a spare,” he wrote. “The purpose stays the identical, this could by no means occur!”
Broken wheelchairs usually are not only a downside overseas.
Air Travel Consumer Reports from the U.S. Division of Transportation discovered greater than 1,700 wheelchairs and scooters have been mishandled by U.S. airways this yr.
“I am gutted to have to begin out my Paralympic journey like this,” he informed his followers on Twitter, however stated he could not wait “to placed on a efficiency to be happy with” on the Tokyo Video games.
Flanagan will swim the 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle on the Paralympics.