How Do I Ride Amtrak Without a Mask?

A reader writes:

Would you give me advice on not wearing a mask on Amtrak in California?

Kalifornia Katie 

Call customer service. Say “I am unable to wear a face mask safely, I want to travel on Amtrak next Tuesday. How do I do that?”

They will say, “Is it a medical thing?” Say “Yes.” Do you have a doctor’s note? You can say “No” or “I do, but I don’t want to show you because it lists my condition.” Whichever is true. “I’m still unable to wear a face mask safely.”

This is not a lie, either. If you need more on the 367 ways that it is unsafe for you or anyone to wear a face mask, have a look at my book Face Masks Hurt Kids or this article. (

It will probably be handled by that point. If the Amtrak customer service representative asks for a face shield, the following might be a useful line “I am unable to wear a face mask shield safely as well — same problem.”

They will tell you what to do. Confirm for them what you are supposed to do. Ask them if they can send you some kind of email confirming this conversation, “Just so I don’t show up and get harassed, because some of these guys working for Amtrak can be pretty intimidating.”

Anything that they propose that you do not like, I would say, “That does not work for me. What else can you offer?” Amtrak customer service appears to have tremendous latitude with the policies. Just try your best to get it in writing afterwards. If you cannot get it in writing, get the name of the person you speak to and be ready to say something like this to anyone working for Amtrak who gives you a hard time, “I called about all of this ahead of time and supervisor Jerome Q. explained to me exactly what I needed to do, and that is the procedure that I am following. He told me this was all in accordance with Amtrak policy, and he assured me that no one who worked for Amtrak and was properly trained would give me a hard time.”

If that person who you speak to on the phone is not helpful, thank him and get off the phone with him. Call right back and speak to someone else. Also, it is good to record the interaction for yourself to find your flaws and improve your method. If you record that interaction and want me to share it with my email newsletter, I think a lot of people will love hearing the experience — especially if successful — and will learn from it. It would be an encouraging contribution to the mighty and growing community of folks refusing this nonsense.

Customer service for federal transportation, whether it be TSA or Amtrak customer service, has been very knowledgeable and accommodating. They have been well-trained and any claim for exemption is well handled, in my experience. One of the keys is to not take “no” for an answer and to gently push back. While there are many ways to do that, again, something along the lines of “That would not work for me, what other options can you offer me?” can be effective in gently pushing back. Also, do not be afraid to just be silent and let awkward pauses in the conversation do the work for you.

My personal experience with Amtrak has been that they are very flexible with this and do not require a mask or test when approached in this way. Despite news reports, the federal government has been very lax and flexible in enforcement of the policies that the media and political figureheads tout. Largely, this is because the media and political figureheads do not accurately depict the actual policies. They merely say the words that they think will be most effective at ensuring mass compliance. The actual policies tend to be very flexible, with massive loopholes, readily accessible to those who push back some.

How does that approach sound?

Please let me know how it goes.

This method of 1.) inquiring about the policy and 2.) requesting an exemption under the policy is covered in depth in the bestselling “Face Masks in One Lesson,” alongside many methods of getting through life normally without wearing a mask. If you are looking for the science on how mask wearing harms everyone, have a look at “Face Masks Hurt Kids.” For similar information, have a look at these writings or signup for the newsletter for professionally made videos and trainings on this topic.