Conservative author and podcaster David Harris Jr. is going viral after posting a video of his encounter at a Dallas airport in which American Airlines agents informed him that he’d been banned from future flights.
Harris, who has previously posted videos from his travels online, had refused to wear a mask on earlier American Airlines flights, citing medical reasons, though most doctors refute the idea that medical conditions are an excuse to not wear a mask.
A spokesperson for the airline told Insider that Harris’ failure to comply with a face-covering requirement was the reason behind his ban from future flights.
While some airlines suggest that the majority of passengers comply with new safety measures, anti-masker incidents continue to stir up attention online.
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As airlines are cracking down on facial covering requirements amid the pandemic, some passengers are making a scene online. David Harris Jr., a conservative author and podcaster, is going viral after filming an encounter with American Airlines employees who informed him that he’d been banned from the airline’s flights for refusing to wear a mask on a previous trip — a now-frequent form of conservative protest against mask policies.
On Tuesday, Harris, who is on the board of the Black Voices for Trump coalition, posted the video to both his Instagram and Facebook profiles, where he boasts a combined total of nearly 2 million followers.
In the clip, Harris — who donned a mask with “Trump Pence” printed on it and said he was flying from Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California for a speaking engagement —tells the camera that he had attempted to check in for a flight on the American Airlines app but was unsuccessful. After calling the airline, he was instructed to speak with agents at the airport’s service counter. An agent can be seen telling Harris that his ticket has been “voided.”
“I didn’t get anything from American Airlines saying my ticket was voided and I wouldn’t be able to get on my flight,” he says to the camera.
After what Harris claimed was a thirty-minute wait, an agent addressed the situation.
“The deal is that you are not able to go on an American Airlines flight. You had some issues before, it seems like?” she says.
Harris responded that during a previous flight, he did not wear a mask “for medical reasons,” adding that he had received permission from the flight’s captain before getting a phone call stating that the airline was no longer offering medical exemptions. While doctors acknowledge that masks can make some wearers uncomfortable, most agree that there are very few legitimate medical excuses to not wear a mask, as was reported by Insider’s Anna Medaris Miller.
“I’m gonna call the manager for you, but you’re gonna be explained the same reason why you are not able to travel with American,” the agent responds in the video.
“That’s BS,” Harris says. “That’s ridiculous.”
Ultimately, Harris wrote in the video’s caption, he and his wife boarded a Southwest flight to Los Angeles from a different airport.
“The flight attendants have been great so far! Much better service,” he said. ” And they’re not mask Nazis saying… (Your mask has to be over your nose) which is utter BS.”
Within two days, the video racked up over 475,000 views on Instagram and we re-posted to the popular r/PublicFreakout subreddit, which frequently mocks videos of anti-maskers, where it received over 65,000 upvotes.
Harris’ conservative audience applauded the video, while many others online mocked it.
Harris’ conservative following voiced their support for the video, applauding what they saw as a firm stance against “tyrannical” restrictions and calling the airline’s move “political,” despite its policy applying to anyone who refuses to wear a mask. Conservatives have frequently recorded anti-mask encounters similar to Harris’ as a form of protest against mask policies, which have followed a growing body of evidence that suggests masks prevent coronavirus transmission.
Redditors, however, have been largely critical of Harris’ behavior.
“What’s incredible to me is that he posted this thinking it would make him look like a victim,” one Redditor wrote.
“Welcome to your destination, the consequences of your actions,” another said.
The airport altercation appears to follow two incidents that Harris documented online.
On July 25, he posted a video from his seat on a flight, saying that his fellow passengers were “tripping out” and refusing to fly when he declined to wear a mask for medical reasons. Indy100 reported that the flight was “held up” as a result.
On August 2, Harris posted another photo — seemingly from another plane flight — in which he’d pulled a “Make America Great Again” cap over his face in place of a mask.
“Face coverings are now mandatory on all flights they said….” he captioned the photo.
The August 2 incident, however, appears to be the impetus for Harris’ ban from American Airlines flights.
“American, like other US airlines, began requiring customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft beginning May 11. On June 15, we strengthened our policy and announced that we may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering for the duration of this requirement,” a spokesperson for the airline told Insider. “Mr. Harris refused to comply with our face covering requirement on an August 2 flight. After a thorough review by our corporate security team, in accordance with our policy, he will no longer be able to travel with American for the duration of the face covering requirement.”
A representative for Southwest Airlines was unable to confirm whether Harris had, indeed, boarded a Southwest flight following the incident at the Dallas airport, as the airline does not release information on individual customers.
According to Southwest’s face covering policy, however, the airline requires that all customers wear “a face covering or mask over their nose and mouth” and that only children under the age of two will be exempt.
David Harris Jr. did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
As airlines tighten their safety precautions amid the pandemic, anti-maskers are receiving online attention.
Several airlines have suggested that the majority of passengers follow the specified safety measures. A spokesperson for American Airlines previously told Business Insider that only “some” people had been banned from flights while a spokesperson for United said that airline had banned “fewer than 10” people for face covering violations.
Still, incidents, of noncompliance are making their way to social media.
In June, Brandon Straka, a conservative activist and political commentator, was removed from an American Airlines flight for declining to wear a mask. According to a New York Times reporter who happened to witness the incident, the flight was held up as Straka argued, and passengers applauded after Straka was taken off the plane.
The following month, another passenger was removed from a Spirit Airlines flight for refusing to wear a face covering. According to footage of the incident posted on Twitter, the passenger removed his mask after boarding the flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and police were eventually called to the scene. A representative for Spirit Airlines said that, ultimately, the passenger chose to leave the flight and the airline would continue enforcing the use of face coverings.
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