An easyJet passenger with lung damage was hauled off a flight for not wearing a face mask as staff allegedly refused to accept his medical exemption without certification.
Brian Spinks, from Falkirk, Scotland, boarded a flight from Luton to Edinburgh on Tuesday but was asked to leave the flight despite having a medical condition.
The 46-year-old explained to staff that he did not have medical letter, as they are not being issued by the Scottish Government, video footage shows.
Mr Spinks claims he has lung damage from a bout of whooping cough two years ago.
But the easyJet website states that passengers who are exempt from the face mask regulation must have a ‘medical certificate, a document from a government website or a lanyard’ that is to be ‘available on request for airport staff and crew’.
Brian Spinks, 46, was removed from an easyJet flight from Luton to Edinburgh for not wearing a face mask. Mr Spinks claims he has lung damage from whooping cough two years ago
In a video, Mr Spinks talks to the camera and explains the situation, claiming that a passenger also tried to ‘assault’ him by grabbing his phone.
He films as police officers walk down the aisle on the plane and he informs that he has paid for the £82 flight.
But the police woman responds: ‘I understand that sir, but if you’re not willing to wear a mask on the flight I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with us.’
Mr Spinks reiterates that he has an exemption but the officer says that without certification he will have to disembark.
ICT engineer Mr Spinks continues to debate with the officer, claiming that he legally does not need to show a letter due to GDPR ‘under Government advice’.
Mr Spinks goes on to question officers about why they need to see his ID before he is removed from the flight.
The police conclude that easyJet’s rules apply as the aircraft is private property.
Mr Spinks was removed from the plane on Tuesday, as easyJet rules state those who are exempt must have a ‘medical certificate, a document from a government website or a lanyard’ readily available
As Mr Spinks leaves, other passengers call him a ‘time-waster’ and hurl sarcastic remarks at him and begin applauding while calling him a ‘selfish p*’ and ‘an absolute d***head’.
Mr Spinks is met by a group of officers who await to take him off the tarmac and put him in a police van.
He says: ‘I’ve just been ejected from the flight and I am sitting in the back of the police van. They tried to put me in the cage but I objected. So just on the way back to the terminal just now.’
Mr Spinks claimed he was left ‘physically shaken’ by the ordeal which left him ‘stranded’ in London. He ended up forking out an extra £70 to get the train home.
Mr Spinks said: ‘It was actually horrendous, I can’t believe the way people speak to each other and the torrent of abuse I received. How have we as a society got this point?
‘I’m already vulnerable because of my condition. They are picking on the most vulnerable in society and it is sickening. It is so discriminatory.
‘Wearing a mask on a plane for me is an impossibility because of my condition.
‘By the end of it I was in quite a bad way and just absolutely exhausted.’
Video footage shows police officers remove Mr Spinks from the plane and other passengers can be heard applauding while calling him a ‘selfish p*’ and ‘an absolute d***head’
The video was shared on Twitter on Wednesday by Mr Spinks’s friend Philip MacFarlane, who complained to easyJet.
EastJet’s social media team responded to the clip explaining their safety regulations.
Mr Spinks said: ‘I explained that the Government advises that I do not not need a doctor’s letter for air travel. Which is why doctors do not issue letters.
‘This was when the air steward became quite aggressive and thrust a mask towards my face.
‘Other passengers began to shout abuse at me at this point also and the steward did nothing to intervene.
‘I became very concerned for my safety at this point and started filming. The air steward became even more aggressive when I started recording.’
But the video has prompted a backlash from social media users, with many of them backing easyJet’s position over the rules.
The video was shared on Twitter on Wednesday by Mr Spinks’s friend Philip MacFarlane and easyJet responded
But the video has prompted a backlash from social media users, with many users backing easyJet’s position over the rules
One user said: ‘Well I’m sorry but I actually support Easyjet on this. In the end the safety of all on the flight must be paramount.
‘Perhaps those who have a genuine medical reason for not wearing a mask should not fly.’
Another person added: ‘Well done easyJet, people need to abide by the new rules to keep others safe.’
WHAT ARE EASYJET’S FACE MASK RULES?
EasyJet’s website states that passengers need to wear a suitable protective face mask for boarding at the gate and throughout your flight.
This is mandatory on all easyJet flights and passengers will not be permitted to board if they arrive at the gate without one.
Masks are required when entering and traveling through the airport terminal at the departure and arrival airport.
Only children under the age of six, and those with a valid medical reason supported by either a medical certificate, a document from a government website or a lanyard are exempt (the requirements are different by country).
This must be available on request for airport staff and crew to see.
EasyJet add that people must check government websites for the latest local government policies before you travel.
The airline added that masks should typically be replaced every four hours, urging passengers, and those you are travelling with, have an adequate supply for the entire duration of the trip.
But one person backed Mr Spinks, writing: ‘Hopefully he takes legal action.’
An easyJet spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The primary responsibility of our crew is for the health and wellbeing of all customers onboard. During the pandemic this is more important than ever.
‘As Mr Spinks refused to state a reason for exemption or provide any exemption documentation, we were unable to allow him to travel and as a result of disruptive behaviour towards our crew, police were required to attend the aircraft and escort him from the flight.
‘For the safety of all onboard and in line with EASA guidelines, all customers are required to wear a face covering. We know some passengers may not be able to and so we inform all customers of this ahead of travel and of what to do if they require an exemption.
‘As well as a medical certificate, customers can alternatively provide a relevant document from a government website or lanyard.’
MailOnline has contacted Bedfordshire Police for comment.
This comes soon after an easyJet pilot was 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 told by the plane’s pilot that would have to don a face covering, despite saying he had chronic asthma.
He told the BBC he was heckled by the other passengers on the hour-long flight from Jersey to Gatwick 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 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.
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.
Nick, who spoke under partial anonymity, was told he would have to don a face mask despite saying he would not be able to breathe during the hour-long flight from Jersey to Gatwick
His exemption letter 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.
‘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.’