Disabled actor humiliated at Manchester Airport

Melissa Johns
Melissa Johns Image credit:

A disabled actor and activist encountered problems at Manchester Airport when the security scanner could not recognise her “lack of arms”.

Melissa Johns, who has starred in BBC One drama Life and played Imogen Pascoe in Coronation Street was stopped at passport control because the technology was unable to identify her as a human.

After the ordeal Johns tweeted: “Had to have a full body search at Manchester Airport. Machine couldn’t detect my body as I don’t have four full limbs.

“It was thrown by my lack of arms so went off on one.

“Discriminated against by a robot… What a time to be alive.”

Although she went on to give credit to the workers, adding: “Manchester airport staff are the best.”

The actress told Manchester Evening News: “The lights were flashing red and they said you will have to do a full body search.

“Even at this point I didn't realise. I said, ‘Is it my earrings or my necklace?’

“She was so polite. She said, ‘I think it doesn't quite pick up your body,’ and then I realised and I was able to finish off the sentence for her.”

Ms Johns added she “would also like to live in a world where, when we are planning these machines, voices with different lived experiences are involved.

“Life is already very difficult when you have a disability. We already go through life being reminded every day that we are different.”

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “We are sorry to hear Ms Johns was not happy with her experience when passing though security at Manchester but are pleased to note her positive comments about the conduct of our team member.

“All equipment used at Manchester is certified for use by the DfT, and our officers are obliged to follow specific instructions when using security scanners.

“This includes what to do when they are set off and further checks are required.

“We cannot comment on the reasons for scanners being set off, all of which are beyond our control, but will ensure this feedback is passed on to the relevant authorities.”

Manchester Airport’s Runway Two was officially opened in February 2001 by Tony Blair.