How to avoid maskless people in airplanes: 'Wanna hear about my testicle-tanning regimen?'

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We learned two important things this week:

1) Face masks, for the moment, are no longer required on U.S. airlines after a federal judge voided the federal mandate issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2) Testicle tanning is something Fox News host Tucker Carlson wants people to know about because he claims, incorrectly, that it increases testosterone and will prevent the downfall of men.

Where some might see two wholly unrelated news items, I see a problem-solving technique.

Most Americans want masks on planes

While the loudest among us hailed the end of masks on flights like it was Victory in Europe Day, tweeting gleeful images of their unmasked midair mugs grinning ear-to-ear, a majority of Americans would just as soon everyone keep their masks on for the time being, as COVID-19 continues to spread and pose a threat to many.

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On Wednesday, a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that "56% of those surveyed favor requiring people on planes, trains and public transportation to wear masks, compared with 24% opposed and 20% who say they are neither in favor nor opposed.”

Put me firmly in the majority. While my risk is low – I’m vaccinated, boosted and in good health – I still don’t want anything to do with COVID-19, and I don’t want to put others at risk when a simple face mask adds an additional layer of protection.

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Some have treated masks as the greatest imposition they’ve ever faced. If that’s the case, I’d argue such folks have faced precious few real impositions in life. It’s a small piece of fabric over your mouth and nose, not a boulder you have to push up a steep mountain for all eternity.

Sitting in your seat 'puts you at risk'

And while the cabin air on an airplane in flight is swiftly filtered, travelers spend considerable time on the ground, jammed together in a narrow metal tube.

A masked passenger on a flight from San Francisco to Newark, N.J., on Oct. 27, 2020.
A masked passenger on a flight from San Francisco to Newark, N.J., on Oct. 27, 2020.

Dr. David Freedman, president-elect of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, told USA TODAY: “The airflow is designed to do that when the engines are fully running in flight and while you’re sitting in your seat. The problem is that travel is a continuum, and it’s not just sitting in your seat on the airplane that puts you at risk.”

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Regardless, without the mandate, and with airlines enthusiastically embracing the mask-optional policy, the die is cast, barring a possible appeal by the Biden administration.

Six tips for avoiding the maskless

So people are going to make their own decisions, and I respect that. But I have come up with a few tips for those of us who favor masks. Using any of these techniques will likely create a safe “social-distancing zone” around you and encourage mask-free travelers to keep away.

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You’re welcome, America.

1) If an unmasked traveler is about to take the seat next to you, greet your new seatmate like this: “Hi, my name is Rex Huppke. I see we’ll be seated next to each other on today’s flight and you’ve decided not to wear a face mask. I’m looking forward to spending the next two hours talking to you loudly about my testicle-tanning regimen! I heard about it from Tucker Carlson, and I have to say, my testosterone levels have never been higher. Buckle up!”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson
Fox News host Tucker Carlson

2) If the first item doesn’t work for you because you have scruples or don’t have testicles, tanned or otherwise, try a different but equally effective greeting: “Hey, great to see you. Sit down and strap in, because I’ve got some things to tell you about cryptocurrency! Are you familiar with ethereum? A lot of folks are still stuck on bitcoin, but I believe in The Flippening and think it’s just a matter of time before bitcoin maximalists get rekt, you know what I mean? I always tell people, ‘Do your own research,’ but for the next few hours, I AM ALL YOURS!”

Pretend you're an antifa super-soldier

3) Right before an unmasked passenger sits down, pull out a large binder clearly marked: “ANTIFA SUPER-SOLDIER’S GUIDE TO IN-FLIGHT SOCIALIST INDOCTRINATION.”

4) If you spot a string of unmasked people walking down the aisle toward your row of seats, immediately remove your shoes and socks and take out a foot file. As they get closer, commence Operation Pedicure.

5) Weep loudly while wailing, “I REALLY JUST NEED SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN TO ME!!”

6) Politely ask any unmasked people near you if they would mind wearing a face mask, at least until the flight is airborne and the filtration system is running at full speed. Then confidently say, “We’re all in this together, right?” Their laughter will immobilize them long enough for you to find another seat.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Airline mask mandates are ending. Here's how to keep maskless away.