Man who was told he’d never fly again made 16,000km trip to Sydney

A frequent flyer who was told he would never step foot on a plane again has defied the odds and made the incredible 16,000km journey from the UK to Australia.

Joe Dowd, 47, from London, suffered a devastating brain aneurysm in 2014 that left him unable to walk.

Through intense rehabilitation, Mr Dowd — who previously lived in Australia with his wife Liz — exceeded the expectations of doctors and got back on his feet.

Still, there was another huge goal his brain injury left seemingly out of his reach: boarding a plane.

But just four years after being given his devastating prognosis, Mr Dowd has managed to fly from London to Sydney with a surprise from British Airways.

Liz and Joe Dowd were surprised with a business class British Airways flight from London to Sydney. Picture: British AirwaysSource:Supplied

It was part of the airline’s BA Magic campaign of good deeds to mark its centenary. Picture: British AirwaysSource:Supplied

The couple had planned a short flight from London to Dublin when Joe thought he was strong enough — but his ultimate goal was making the long-haul journey back to Australia for a visit.

Earlier this month British Airways, which is marking its 100th year with its 100 acts of kindness campaign BA Magic, surprised the couple with a free flight to Sydney.

When they got to Dublin, where the couple was visiting family, British Airways surprised them with two business class tickets to Sydney to continue their journey.

The couple enjoyed the perks of business class travel. Picture: British AirwaysSource:YouTube

“British Airways made my dream of flying again a reality,” Mr Dowd said before he boarded the Sydney flight at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

“The Australia tickets were a surprise I’ll never forget and this journey would never have been possible without BA Magic.”

British Airways decided to reward Mr Dowd — a former banker who wanted to be a pilot when he was a boy — after Liz wrote in about her husband’s incredible story.

The couple was given the star treatment. Picture: British AirwaysSource:YouTube

Joe believed he would never fly again after a traumatic brain injury. Picture: British AirwaysSource:YouTube

“I never imagined they would help make the journey so special,” Liz Dowd said.

“It was such an incredible and emotional milestone, Joe’s specialist team feel that he has returned even stronger. The whole experience was truly memorable and magical.”

The airline’s director of brand and customer experience Carolina Martinoli said the Dowds were “inspirational”.

“When Liz wrote to us and told us about Joe’s bravery, we wanted to do everything we could to make sure he had an enjoyable and seamless journey,” she said.

“Our ambassadors, ground staff, cabin crew and pilots worked hard to make sure it was a trip Joe and Liz would never forget. They are a truly inspirational and deserving couple.”

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