EasyJet pilot orders man with asthma to wear a mask or be thrown off plane

An EasyJet pilot has been filmed demanding an asthma sufferer wear a mask – or be thrown off his flight.

A man called Nick, who did not want to give his full name, said he was heckled by other passengers on the plane for not wearing a mask despite him being unable to breathe when he wears one.

He told the BBC he was forced to wear a mask due to pressure from the pilot and those sat next to him, 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.

‘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’. 

Nick was confronted by the plane’s pilot and was told he must wear a face covering, despite his explanation that he would not be able to breathe during the hour-long flight from Jersey to Gatwick. 

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

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

He said he 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. Nick said he was confronted ‘around six times’ by members of EasyJet staff.

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

People who are exempt from wearing 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, but this is a personal choice and not enforced by law.

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

‘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,’ they added.

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

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

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

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