Justin Levene

Activist and Wheelchair Athlete

Justin Levene is an international wheelchair athlete who hit headlines around the world when footage emerged of him dragging himself along the airport floor. His campaign for independence and accessibility at Luton Airport was described as a ‘watershed moment for disability’.

In August 2017 Justin was returning from Croatia when he discovered his wheelchair had been left behind. Staff at Luton Airport had no loan replacement wheelchair offer for when he got home and the only option in the airport was an assisted wheelchair.  ​

Most airports have self-propelled wheelchairs or motorised buggies, so Justin was surprised and angered that the only option available was a chair he would have to be strapped in to with someone else pushing – an option he found degrading. After he became paralysed Justin worked hard for two years to regain his independence.

Justin chose to drag himself along the floor rather than be pushed and spent the next year campaigning, behind the scenes, for the airport to improve their mobility services. When the airport refused to change their policies, Justin began a lawsuit.

In November 2018, when no progress had been made, Justin released footage online – shot by a friend – of how he had been forced to make his way across the airport on his hands. The shocking images made headlines around the world and gained support from high-profile wheelchair users including BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner and paralympians Anne Walufa Strike and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Tanni even joined him on Good Morning Britain to raise awareness about the barriers disabled people face accessing transport.   

After the press outcry the airport rapidly changed its policy – including self-propelled wheelchairs and a loan scheme. With his goal achieved: Justin dropped the lawsuit.

Justin is also a motivational speaker and trains and mentors other disabled athletes. For the past year he has been working in Moldova to provide wheelchairs and other mobility equipment, as well as mentoring children in the country.