In January 2022 I used an airline to fly from UK to Spain. As soon as I boarded, I made myself comfortable and ready to sleep as I had no opportunity to do so the night before. I took my mask off as I simply can’t sleep with a mask on. As a consequence I was approached 6 times by 3 different flight attendants with their request to wear my mask. I explained that I am exempt and that I don’t need to proof any medical exemption. As they didn’t accept my explanation, they continued telling me to put on my mask. There was no sign of understanding by the flight attendants but instead I was repeatedly asked to put my mask on and furthermore I was threatened in front of half of the passengers that the airplane would need to turn around as I am a bio-terrorist to staff and passengers. They were trying to turn the majority of passengers against me and openly said that I would soon see the reactions AND (physical) actions (aggressions) against me.

I repeatedly stated (on the flight) that I don't need to have a medical exemption because there is no doctor or GP in the UK who would provide such an exemption. The UK government website explicitly says that everyone has the right to exempt themselves not necessarily based on any medical conditions!  Since when are company's rules above law? Repeating myself but I was clearly harassed, discriminated and threatened by the flight attendants and the captain himself. I am no biohazard to any staff or passengers.

General question: The company's T&C (I had agreed to) mentions that I need to provide a medical exemption. As mentioned above there is no such thing available and necessary in the UK. Thus, can the Equality Act 2010 be of any use here to claim compensation?

Specific question: Is asking the private health status (including the request to wear a mask) an offence?


1 Answer 1


Since you asked two questions: No and No

Does a company’s T&C or their house rules supersede law


and is asking private health status (including the request to wear a mask) an offence?


A company cannot require you to do things that are against the law but they can require you to do things that go further than the legal minimum.

The UK and Spanish governments do not require you to wear a mask but they do not prohibit private organisations (like airlines) for making it a requirement to access their facilities.

The law requires that they make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. But you don’t have a disability, you just can’t sleep with a mask on. If you had a disability you would have no trouble in getting a letter from your doctor to that effect.

The contract requires them to take you from the UK to Spain: they don’t have to enable you to sleep. If you read the T&C, you will find that they can refuse to carry you if, in their reasonable opinion, you pose a hazard to the aircraft or the people aboard it.

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    Cabinet office has issued guidance to businesses for retail (customer-facing) settings as to how one’s disability status ought to be judged or determined and this is intended as an elaboration of equality act 2010. It says that evidence like drs letters of exempt status cannot be demanded/required. And iinm proposes that inquiries as to the details of one’s exempt status by a business in a public facing setting or possibly otherwise amount to a violation of one’s personal dignity if not also medical privacy. Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 11:15
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    @JosephP. Airlines - and passengers using them - are understandably subject to additional rules, and cabin crew have additional powers to enforce them. Is there any guidance on what happens if questions of disability status clash with airline regulations? Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 12:01
  • Well no, not that I’ve seen and I frankly doubt that it has been elaborated to that level of minute detail, but I assume that airlines as a service provider to the public are subject to the equality act 2010. If you’ve seen anything suggesting otherwise to substantiate, as that seems to be your contention, I think it would be on you to provide because I can see no clear reason so far to conclude that it does not (insofar as U.K. law is applicable, which is an entirely different question on which I’m not knowledgeable, much less clear. But I have see no reasons so far to suppose that under Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 12:29
  • U.K. law airlines would not be subject to the equality act 2010 as service providers to the public (ie, (in this case, U.K.-departing and thus U.K.-located) passengers). Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 12:31
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 16:08

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