Republican Lawmaker Banned From Flying For Refusing To Mask Up
A Republican Alaskan lawmaker’s repeated refusals to wear a mask while on board Alaska Airlines planes has gotten her banned from the airline and quite possibly made it impossible for her to represent her constituents in the state senate.
State Sen. Lora Reinbold lives in Eagle River, Alaska and has to fly from nearby Anchorage to the state capital of Juneau to participate in legislative sessions. No other airline operates scheduled flights between the two cities, which are 848 miles apart. Making the drive, if road and weather conditions permitted, would take almost 20 hours and require crossing into and out of Canada. Another option, a ferry trip across the Gulf of Alaska, would take days.
Lawmakers in Alaska are permitted to participate in committee meetings by teleconference but cannot vote on the House or Senate floor remotely under current procedures. The state senate reconvenes today.
Last week, Reinbold was recorded in Juneau International Airport arguing with Alaska Airlines staff about mask policies. A video posted to social media appears to show airline staff telling Reinbold her mask must cover her nose and mouth. According to Reinbold she was simply inquiring about a “mask exemption with uptight employees at the counter.”
Reinbold has been a vocal opponent to COVID-19 mitigation measures and has repeatedly objected to Alaska Airlines’ mask policy, which was enacted before the federal government’s mandate this year.
Last year, she referred to Alaska Airlines staff as “mask bullies” after being asked by flight attendants to wear a mask aboard a flight
Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson told the Anchorage Daily News, “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,” adding that the suspension was effective immediately. Thompson said the length of Reinbold’s ban from its planes will be determined by a review.
Overall, Alaska Airlines has banned more than 500 people for refusing to comply with its face mask policy.