Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith banned from American Airlines
Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith has been temporarily banned from American Airlines after refusing to wear a mask on his flight from a conservative political conference in Orlando.
Smith and business partner Frank Trumbetti have drawn headlines and heavy fines for defying Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders when opening a gym was prohibited during the first months of the pandemic. Smith has been saying since Jan. 14 that Phil Murphy had illegally seized “all of the gym’s assets” from donations and apparel sales, which he lists as $165,000. The Attorney General's Office, which has won court judgement against Smith, said his claim is not true.
Smith was part of a CPAC panel about the confiscation of private property. He told the crowd that the state's actions against his gym in Bellmawr during a public health emergency violated his constitutional rights.
On the gym's Instagram account, Smith posted a message saying he was banned from the airline due to a "recent incident regarding our policy on face mask coverings" on a Friday flight. The ban is in effect until face coverings are no longer required on commercial flights.
"Following travel on board American Airlines flight 1617 from Orlando (MCO) to Philadelphia (PHL) on Feb. 26, Mr. Smith was added to American’s Face Covering Refuse List for failure to comply with repeated crew member requests to wear a face covering," a spokesman for the airline said in an email to New Jersey 101.5. "As a result, Mr. Smith will not be permitted to travel on American while our face covering policy is in place."
Smith, an ex-con convicted of killing a teenager in a drunk-driving crash in 2007, said the ban does not bother him and he will find a workaround.
"What they want is to scare you. I refuse to blindly follow orders to do something that not only will not protect my health, but also put it at risk for other issues. They want your compliance," Smith said. He encouraged civil disobedience to end required mask wearing.
American Airlines did not immediately return a message from New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday afternoon.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office requiring masks to be worn on airplanes, buses and at airports. Those who do not follow crew instructions could be fined up to $35,000.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to include comment from American Airlines.