NJ gym owner who defied lockdown banned from airline after mask-less trip

Ian Smith had been banned after his Feb. 26 flight from Orlando to Philly

A New Jersey gym owner infamous for defying the state’s COVID-19 lockdown has been banned from American Airlines after refusing to mask-up on his trip back from the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Ian Smith, 33, shared an email on Instagram Monday from the carrier, informing him of his ban “due to a recent incident regarding our policy on face mask coverings.”


“Update on my recent flight to and from @cpac in Orlando – I received an email today saying I am no longer welcome on AA flights for the ‘incident,'” Smith commented on the post.

“This does not bother me.⁣ I will happily take any punishment these people wish to hand me. I will happily find a work-around.”⁣

An American Airlines spokesman confirmed that Smith had been banned after his Feb. 26 flight from Orlando to Philly.

“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,” said the rep, Andrew Trull.

“As a result, Mr. Smith will not be permitted to travel on American while our face covering policy is in place.”

An earlier video posted to Smith’s Instagram account showed him sans mask at Philadelphia International Airport and before, during and while exiting his flight.

Smith blasts American’s mask rules as “silly and useless” and encourages opponents to “have fun” ignoring them.


Research has found that wearing masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the CDC and other health authorities. Multi-layer cloth masks can both block up to 70 percent of fine droplets and limit the spread of those that are not captured.

The Bellmawr, New Jersey gym owner lost his license to operate over the summer after repeatedly reopening despite being arrested and hit with fines.

As of December, Smith’s penalties totaled over $1.2 million. His Atilis Gym continued to operate without masks or social distancing rules in defiance of local and state authorities.