Alaska Airlines is threatening to sue a passenger who was removed from a flight for wearing an offensive pro-Trump face mask that it says violated its dress code policy which prohibits offensive messages.
Sara Gamache has created her own website called ‘Expose Alaska Airlines’ to share her side of the story following the June 24 incident on a flight from Seattle to Denver. A video of an interaction with one of the flight attendants has been viewed more than 7 million times on TikTok and there is also an Instagram post in which Gamache says she was “bullied” by the flight attendants on Alaska Airlines flight AS1151.
Ms Gamache says she was removed from the flight after wearing a fabric face mask that had “Trump 2020″ emblazoned across it and then in smaller writing underneath: “F*** your Feelings.” Although she offered to wear a plain black mask, flight attendants had her removed from the flight because the pilots didn’t “feel comfortable” with her onboard.
The incident started when a flight attendant noticed Ms Gamache was wearing a mesh face mask during a mask-compliance cabin walkthrough prior to departure. Ms Gamache says she didn’t realize the mesh mask wasn’t approved but when challenged she swapped it out for her Trump fabric mask which she claims to have worn without incident on several other Alaska Airlines flights.
The flight attendant described the new mask as “inappropriate” according to Ms Gamache’s account and fetched another crew member who also told her it violated Alaska Airlines policy.
“I politely explained that I have worn this mask on several other Alaska Flights with no issue and therefore, requested to see the policy relied upon by the attendant banning the mask,” Ms Gamache explains.
Although the flight attendant couldn’t present the policy, she issued an ultimatum: either replace the Trump mask or get off the plane. Ms Gamache says she decided to comply and put on a plain black mask and agreed to continue wearing it for the duration of the flight.
Several minutes later, however, Alaska Airlines decided Ms Gamache would be removed from the flight.
“Ms Gamache falsely claims that she was removed for wearing a mask with a pro-Trump political slogan,” a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines says of her account of the incident.
“In fact, she was removed for refusing to follow crew member instructions on multiple flights and because a profane statement appeared on the mask in violation of Alaska’s policy,” the statement continued.
“This was the second incident in which Ms Gamache defied crew member requests to comply with the federal mask policy. In January, Ms Gamache received a yellow card for repeated refusals to wear an appropriate mask.
We expect our customers to comply with Alaska policies and federal law when they choose to fly with us.”
Ms Gamache says she has received a letter from Alaska’s insurance company claiming the airline can sue for damages and will do so unless she removes her video of the incident and takes down her website.
“They are claiming the flight was canceled solely because of the incident,” Ms Gamache slams. “However, the flight timed out because it had already been previously delayed 2 hours, for weather in Denver. Our incident was a mere 15 minutes, and most of that was the time spent searching for their policy, for which they never found”
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.