An Alaska state senator who has previously described Alaska Airlines flight attendants as “mask bullies” has been banned by the airline after another incident in which the senator allegedly refused to mask up.
The incident allegedly occurred during a scheduled flight from Anchorage to the remote city of Juneau. Alaska Airlines is the only airline to fly to Juneau and it could take Sen. Lora Reinbold several days to get back to Anchorage by ferry the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Alaska Airlines spokesperson Tim Thompson confirmed the ban in an emailed statement, saying: “We have notified Senator Lora Reinbold that she is not permitted to fly with us for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy.”
“This suspension is effective immediately, pending further review. Federal law requires all guests to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times during travel, including throughout the flight, during boarding and deplaning, and while traveling through an airport,” Thompson continued.
In a Facebook post on Saturday night, Sen. Reinbold hit back at the airline claiming details of the ban had been leaked to the media before anyone from Alaska Airlines had even notified her.
“There was no due process before a temporary decision that is “under review” was made public,” Reinbold wrote. “Alaska Airlines sent information, including my name, to the media without my knowledge nor permission. I do believe constitutional rights are at risk under corporate covid policies,” the Facebook post continued.
“I inquired about mask exemption with uptight employees at the counter. The timing of complaint and a specific employee is of keen interest.”
Alaska Airlines has enforced a strict face mask policy since last May and long before a federal mask mandate was introduced by the Biden administration. The Seattle-based airline requires all customers over the age of two to wear a cloth face mask or other approved covering.
Customers with a medical exemption are permitted to travel but according to Alaska Airlines’ mask policy, they must provide written documentation from a licensed health care provider and proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72-hours of travel.
Reinbold was reportedly seen arguing with Alaska Airline staffers at Juneau airport over the policy resulting in police being called to the scene.
Last November, Reinbold wrote an angry Facebook post in response to another incident onboard an Alaska Airlines flight. “Mask bullies in full force on Alaskans Airlines,” she wrote.
“All because a scaredy cat Karen whined loudly and was a Tattle tail when I took my dumb worthless suffocating mask off, a bit longer than she wanted, for my food and drink.”
Despite this latest incident, Reinbold said she had a “pleasant flight” with “happy flight attendants and great talented pilots”.
“I hope to be on an Alaska Airlines flight in the near future,” the senator wrote. Alaska Airlines has not said how long the ban will last and that a review will be carried out in the near future.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.