A video making its rounds on social media showed an easyJet pilot demanding that a passenger with asthma put on his mask before the plane could take off despite the man claiming he had a government exemption slip.
According to The BBC.com, the man who taped the incident, identified as Nick, boarded an easyJet flight from Jersey Airport in the Channel Islands as it prepared to take off for London Gatwick Airport in August.
Nick claimed he had government exemption paperwork from health officials in the United Kingdom that stated he didn’t have to wear a mask due to chronic asthma. After being asked by the flight crew at least six times to wear a mask and delaying the flight by almost 30 minutes, the pilot finally got involved.
The video showed the captain approach Nick and acknowledge that he couldn’t accept the exemption and required him to put on a facial covering or leave the plane. The man finally accepted the pleas and put on the mask as other passengers shouted and laughed at him.
“I would do anything to avoid wearing anything that restricts my breathing,” Nick told BBC. “That’s more terrifying than being insulted by 100 passengers, but eventually I felt like I had no choice.”
“Whether it’s a polo neck or a scarf round your face, the sensation is stifling,” he continued. “I just find it increasingly difficult to breathe. It’s like a steel belt round my chest.”
The UK government allows passengers with valid medical conditions to receive documentation permitting them to avoid wearing facial coverings, but they are not always required to provide evidence of the exemption.
“For the safety of all onboard and in line with EASA [European Aviation Safety Agency] guidelines, all customers are required to wear a face covering,” an easyJet spokesman told Business Insider. “We know some passengers may not be able to so we make sure that we inform all customers of this ahead of travel and of what to do if they require an exemption.”
“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,” the statement continued. “We are sorry that this new policy was not recognized by the crew on this occasion. We cannot tolerate disruptive behavior towards our crew.”
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