‘Discriminated against by a robot’: Disabled actor given full body search at airport after scanner confused by ‘lack of arms’
A disabled actor and activist says she was given a full body search at Manchester Airport after the security scanner was “thrown” by her “lack of arms”.
Melissa Johns, who has previously starred in Coronation Street, was born without a right forearm – a fact that she says confused the airport machinery.
“Had to have a full body search at Manchester Airport. Machine couldn’t detect my body as I don’t have four full limbs,” she tweeted following the experience.
“It was thrown by my lack of arms so went off on one.
“Discriminated against by a robot… What a time to be alive.”
However, she praised airport staff, writing: “Manchester airport staff are the best.”
“The lights were flashing red and they said you will have to do a full body search,” Ms Johns, who previously played Imogen Pascoe in Coronation Street, told the Manchester Evening News.
“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.”
Although the performer took the incident in her stride, she added that she “would also like to live in a world where, when we are planning these machines, voices with different lived experiences are involved.”
She added: “Life is already very difficult when you have a disability. We already go through life being reminded every day that we are different.”
An airport spokesperson 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.”