Anti-Mask Activist Banned By American Airlines, But Not For The Reason You’d Expect

A mask resister live-blogged his experience flying American Airlines to Philadelphia and home to Manchester, New Hampshire. He drank at the airport and mocked other passengers along the way. And while he reports being successful walking through the airport and flying to Philly without a properly-worn mask, he says he was eventually kicked off his last flight by American for something entirely unrelated to masks – taking a seat in an empty row to promote social distancing.

Jeremy Kauffman has a blockchain company for publishing (that “does to publishing, what Bitcoin did to money”) and is a board member of the Free State Project, which aims to convince libertarians to move to New Hampshire – a small enough state where a critical mass of voters could take over and set policy.

As a libertarian it seems odd not to respect the rules of a private company, that as a condition of air travel passengers have to wear masks. American’s rules predated federal mask rules. Masks always seemed to me a more pro-liberty alternative to lock downs.

And I never understood the idea that ‘masks are about control.’ Control by whom, and towards what end? How do they profit? I’d sooner buy a conspiracy theory about SARS-CoV-2 being cooked up in a lab in Wuhan to promote worldwide mask purchases, since mask manufacturing is so prevalent in China…

Kauffman, by the way, never washes his mask. You should change out your mask every four hours. When you take off your mask, put on a fresh one. He says he was forced to change his mask. That’s when he started drinking, so you know this story is going to end well.

Kauffman boarded his first flight and reported on the mask announcement. He thinks the exception that allows passengers to briefly remove a mask for eating or drinking is hypocritical and proves something that’s…never made quite clear. But he wants you to know that he’s resisting.

During his connection in Philadelphia he walked around without wearing his mask over nose and mouth, as federal and airport rules require. This is civil disobedience of the Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks variety.

He seems to vacillate between a view that Covid isn’t real and that people aren’t taking it seriously enough, whether American Airlines for refusing to provide for social distancing on board or airline passengers who bunch together during deplaning and don’t exercise enough (because obesity correlates with severe disease outcomes).

Here’s where he begins to get into trouble, and it had nothing to do with his mask. He boarded the plane and took a seat in an empty row rather than his assigned seat. It wasn’t the mask that got him in trouble, it was changing seats – he was booted from the empty row.

While American Airlines hasn’t been blocking middle seats or limiting seats sales on flights to promote distancing, they’ve allowed passengers to reseat themselves in order to spread out once on board. I reached out to American Airlines to find out if that policy had changed, and spokesperson Sarah Jantz confirmed that “the policy is still in place.”

You may be glad to know that Kauffman made it home, driving from Philadelphia to Manchester, New Hampshire, and that he considers himself “at peace with” American Airlines. Spokesperson Jantz, however, tells me that “this customer has been placed on our internal refuse list pending further investigation.”

Perhaps the strangest thing about this whole ordeal is Kauffman’s conclusion that he has lost respect for everyone else.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Classic entitled douche bag drumming up publicity for his failing business, which he will then blame on the government.

  2. Social media is pretty amazing. On one hand it gives these people the attention they crave from people that think like they do, and on the other hand it provides solid evidence to add people to No Fly Lists.

  3. Kauffman seems like a swell guy and is quite likely super fun to be around.

  4. Not the brightest tool in the shed for live posting on twitter but he raises valid points that the rules around masks are about power

  5. Can’t fix stupid. As it happens, nature isn’t cruel but it is heartless. People like this often win Darwin Awards.

  6. The business is actually an interesting one, and not just because of censorship. Han shot first, people.

    That said, this guy is a COVID Kauffman in the same vein as Typhoid Mary. He can mock it all he wants, but reality doesn’t bend to his preferred set of facts. Lock him up!

  7. “Biggest tragedy of COVID may be the respect I have lost for most of humanity”

    Speaking on behalf of the rest of humanity, Jeremy Cough-Man, the feeling is mutual.

  8. I went to high school with him. Smart guy, but was always obsessed with proving he was smarter than everyone and proving a point no matter how absurd. He got on the crazy libertarian train a few years back (I’m pretty libertarian, so when I say crazy I mean it) and I guess this is where it leads.

  9. Gary, you say to change out your mask every four hours. How does one do this on a flight without violating the rules requiring one to wear a mask the entire time? I agree that masks should be changed frequently, but I feel that there has not been enough guidance given for how to do this.

  10. Should read up on the Free State project in NH. I believe these are the people who bought up a small town and got rid of a lot of city regulations.

    For instance, like bear proof garbage bins, when resulted in more bears being attracted to the town:

    “Basically, Grafton became a Wild West, frontier-type town.

    Sean Illing
    When did the bears show up?

    Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling
    It turns out that if you have a bunch of people living in the woods in nontraditional living situations, each of which is managing food in their own way and their waste streams in their own way, then you’re essentially teaching the bears in the region that every human habitation is like a puzzle that has to be solved in order to unlock its caloric payload. And so the bears in the area started to take notice of the fact that there were calories available in houses.

    One thing that the Free Towners did that encouraged the bears was unintentional, in that they just threw their waste out how they wanted. They didn’t want the government to tell them how to manage their potential bear attractants. The other way was intentional, in that some people just started feeding the bears just for the joy and pleasure of watching them eat.

    As you can imagine, things got messy and there was no way for the town to deal with it. Some people were shooting the bears. Some people were feeding the bears. Some people were setting booby traps on their properties in an effort to deter the bears through pain. Others were throwing firecrackers at them. Others were putting cayenne pepper on their garbage so that when the bears sniffed their garbage, they would get a snout full of pepper.

    It was an absolute mess.

    Sean Illing
    We’re talking about black bears specifically. For the non-bear experts out there, black bears are not known to be aggressive toward humans. But the bears in Grafton were … different.

    Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling
    Bears are very smart problem-solving animals. They can really think their way through problems. And that was what made them aggressive in Grafton. In this case, a reasonable bear would understand that there was food to be had, that it was going to be rewarded for being bolder. So they started aggressively raiding food and became less likely to run away when a human showed up.

    There are lots of great examples in the book of bears acting in bold, unusually aggressive manners, but it culminated in 2012, when there was a black bear attack in the town of Grafton. That might not seem that unusual, but, in fact, New Hampshire had not had a black bear attack for at least 100 years leading up to that. So the whole state had never seen a single bear attack, and now here in Grafton, a woman was attacked in her home by a black bear.

    And then, a few years after that, a second woman was attacked, not in Grafton but in a neighboring town. And since the book was written and published, there’s actually been a third bear attack, also in the same little cluster and the same little region of New Hampshire. And I think it’s very clear that, unless something changes, more bear attacks will come.

    Luckily, no one’s been killed, but people have been pretty badly injured.”

  11. Chairman of the committee to re elect the former imbecile chief, Donald Dump .Another classy deplorable.

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