Video shows an EasyJet pilot berating a passenger with chronic asthma for not wearing a mask, even though he was carrying an exemption card

  • A video shows the moment an EasyJet pilot refused to take off until an asthmatic passenger put on a mask, despite his presenting a government exemption card, during a flight last month.
  • The passenger, identified as Nick, shared a video with the BBC in which he repeatedly tells the pilot he is exempt from wearing a mask.
  • In the video, the pilot is heard saying: "Last chance. You have two seconds to grab this [mask] and put it on, or you're off."
  • UK government guidelines state that those with disabilities like chronic asthma are exempt from wearing masks. 
  • EasyJet told Business Insider it had recently started accepting the government slip, and was sorry that its crew weren't aware of the update. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Video shows the moment an EasyJet pilot demanded that an asthmatic passenger wear a face mask, despite carrying a valid UK government exemption slip. 

The man, identified by the BBC as Nick, filmed the exchange onboard an EasyJet aircraft as it prepared to fly from Jersey Airport, in the Channel Islands, to London Gatwick Airport in August.

Nick told the BBC he was repeatedly told to put on a mask by cabin crew and the pilot, but he declined, citing his chronic asthma. He said he showed them the UK government's waiver slip that explained his legal right not to.

Watch the clip here:

In the UK, people with legitimate health conditions, like chronic asthma, are not required to wear a mask.

In the video, the pilot — who is not identified — is heard telling the passenger that he cannot acknowledge the slip.

"Last chance. You have two seconds to grab this  [mask] and put in on, or you're off," the pilot says in the video.

The man identified as Nick told the BBC he finally agreed to put on a mask because he felt responsible for delaying the plane.

"The staff came to speak to me around six times. The 30-minute delay was seen as my fault and each visit whipped up more hostility among the passengers," he said.

"I was insulted, shouted at, laughed at. It felt like everybody was against me."

"I would do anything to avoid wearing anything that restricts my breathing," he added. "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. I just find it increasingly difficult to breathe," he said, according to the BBC.

"It's like a steel belt round my chest."

UK government guidelines state that those exempt from wearing masks don't always need to provide evidence of their exemption. 

"Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this, this includes exemption cards," the guidelines say. "No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering."

EasyJet told Business Insider that it had recently updated its terms of travel, so that those exempt from wearing masks can present their government slip to bypass face mask regulations. Previously, EasyJet required passengers to provide a medical certificate to do so.

"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. 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," an EasyJet spokesman told Business Insider.

"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."

"We are sorry that this new policy was not recognized by the crew on this occasion," the spokesman said, adding: "We cannot tolerate disruptive behavior towards our crew."

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