EasyJet pilot orders passenger to wear a mask or be thrown off flight

EasyJet pilot orders passenger with chronic asthma to wear a mask or be thrown off flight from Jersey to Gatwick

  • Nick, who spoke under condition of anonymity, was confronted on his flight
  • The pilot threatened to kick him off the plane if he didn’t don a face covering
  • Nick told the crew of the flight from Jersey to Gatwick he had chronic asthma 

An EasyJet pilot has been accused of ‘ambushing’ a passenger with chronic asthma after he demanded the man wear a mask or be thrown off his flight.

Nick, who spoke under partial anonymity, was confronted by the plane’s pilot and told he would have to don a face covering despite his explanation that he would not be able to breathe during the hour-long flight from Jersey to Gatwick. 

He told the BBC he was heckled by the other passengers on the flight and was left with no other choice than to wear a mask – which made him hyperventilate.   

‘Whether it’s a polo neck or a scarf round your face, the sensation is stifling. I just find it increasingly difficult to breathe,’ he said.

Nick, who spoke under partial anonymity, was confronted by the plane’s pilot and told he would have to don a face covering despite his explanation he would not be able to breathe during the hour-long flight from Jersey to Gatwick

Although face masks are required in enclosed public spaces such as public transport in England, some people do not have to wear them.

These people include:

  • Children under the age of 11; 
  • People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability; 
  • Employees of indoor settings (or people acting on their behalf, such as someone leading part of a prayer service) or transport workers; 
  • Police officers and other emergency workers; 
  • Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress; 
  • If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate; 
  • To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others – including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity.

Nick’s flight was delayed by 30 minutes, something he said the other passengers blamed him for. 

In a 30-second video other passengers cheered and applauded the pilot after he told Nick he would be kicked off the flight. 

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England because they are believed to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Those who don’t have to wear a mask include: children under the age of 11; people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability; and where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress. 

In England people can choose to carry a card or badge to show they are exempt, according to the Department for Transport in England, but this is a personal choice and not enforced by law.

Nick showed the plane’s crew an official exemption card he had printed out from the Government’s website before flying to the island of Jersey to see his family last month.

It was accepted on the way to the island but disputed on the return journey – with Nick facing confrontation with staff ‘around six times’.

He added: ‘I was insulted, shouted at, laughed at. It felt like everybody was against me.’

Footage filmed on Nick’s phone showed the pilot telling Nick if he didn’t put on a mask he ‘was off’. 

EasyJet said all customers are required to wear a face covering but acknowledged some passengers can’t.

A statement from the airline said: ‘We have recently updated our policies in line with recent UK government guidance so that as well as a medical certificate, customers can alternatively provide a relevant document from a government website or lanyard.

In a 30-second video other passengers cheered and applauded the pilot after he told Nick he would be kicked off the flight

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England because they are believed to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Pictured, a woman wore a face covering in Caerphilly, Wales, today

‘We are sorry that this new policy was not recognised by the crew on this occasion.’ 

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s head of policy, Sarah MacFadyen, said for a small number of people with asthma it is ‘impossible for them to breathe’ while wearing a mask.

She added: ‘That’s why these exemptions are in place, so they can still go out and live their lives.’ 

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