This appears to fly in the face of the Equality Act which makes clear that not all disabilities are visible. Indeed, the majority are not. However, the act does not apply to aviation. Instead, the prevailing rules are provided by EU Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 which states that passengers with disabilities should have “opportunities for travel comparable to other citizens”. It adds, however, that airlines must verify whether a passenger should be denied boarding on safety grounds. It’s this caveat that Wizz Air is presumably relying on.
Government guidance does, indeed, allow passengers to be exempted on medical grounds, but it is only guidance. The Department for Transport would not comment on Wizz Air’s ban and merely stated that airlines must implement the guidance responsibly. There’s the added complication that different countries – and airlines – have their own rules, so while you might be allowed to board without a mask in a UK airport, you may not be permitted to disembark – or board a connecting flight – at your destination.
The situation plays havoc with affected people who need to travel. Seventy per cent of US airlines refuse to accept medical exemptions and, last month, an asthmatic passenger was forced to don a mask on an easyJet flight after crew refused to accept his exemption card. The airline later apologised and confirmed that passengers with a relevant document from a government website, lanyard or a medical certificate would be exempted.