A British Paralympian was pleasantly surprised earlier this week while traveling to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Wheelchair rugby player Jack Smith turned up at the aircraft for British Airways flight five to Tokyo, only to discover that his uncle was responsible for flying the aircraft.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are set to get underway one year late next week following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global community. To compete in the games, athletes from around the world have to make their way to the city, which is where the world’s airlines come into the equation.
An in-flight surprise
As if flying to your debut Paralympic Games in a far-off land wasn’t exciting enough, wheelchair rugby player Jack Smith got an added surprise on his recent flight to Tokyo. Arriving at the aircraft, Smith discovered that his uncle was the aircraft’s pilot for the flight out to Japan.
Departures update: Wheelchair rugby player Jack Smith arrived for his flight to Tokyo to discover that the captain of the plane was in fact… his uncle! ✈️😃 pic.twitter.com/7EMkVWRwa3
— ParalympicsGB (@ParalympicsGB) August 18, 2021
According to ParalympicsGB, the team Jack will be representing, he was a keen rugby player who broke his neck playing the sport. Rather than throwing in the towel, Smith discovered the world of wheelchair rugby, reaching a level where he can now represent his country in front of the world.
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Other countries are also flying athletes
Of course, it isn’t just ParalympicsGB that is flying to the Tokyo games. Athletes worldwide are heading to the city, with many flying on their designated flag carrier, like Smith with British Airways.
Yesterday the German Paralympic team departed from Frankfurt Airport to be flown out to the games by Lufthansa. The airline used an Airbus A340-300 for the 12-hour flight, meaning that passengers wouldn’t have had a shot at a first class cabin. They did, however, receive a first class send-off. Not only was Carsten Spohr, CEO of the Lufthansa Group, there to wave the athletes off. He was joined by Friedhelm Julius Beucher, the President of the German Disabled Sports Association, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany.
This morning it was the turn of another Lufthansa Group airline to get involved. Austrian Airlines took a large number of the 24 strong Austrian Paralympic team out to Tokyo on a Boeing 777. Commenting on the athlete’s departure, The airline’s COO Francesco Sciortino said,
“Our crew will fly the athletes and the Paralympic spirit with service excellence to Tokyo. As a proud partner of the Austrian Paralympic Committee, we wish all athletes all the best for the upcoming games”
Simple Flying has contacted British Airways for comment regarding Jack Smith’s surprise. This article will be updated as appropriate with any response.
What do you make of the Paralympic athletes traveling out to the Tokyo Paralympic Games? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!