Alaska Airlines bans Reinbold for violating mask rules

A woman in a wood-panelled building
Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, smiles before taking her seat on the Senate floor on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in Juneau, Alaska. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Airlines has banned an Alaska state senator for refusing to follow mask requirements.

“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,” spokesman Tim Thompson told the Anchorage Daily News on Saturday, adding that the suspension was effective immediately.

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Reinbold, a Republican of Eagle River, said she had not been notified of a ban and that she hoped to be on an Alaska Airlines flight in the near future.

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.

Reinbold told the newspaper that had been inquiring about a “mask exemption with uptight employees at the counter.”

“I was reasonable with all Alaska Airlines employees,” she said, adding that she was able to board the flight to Anchorage.

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, the newspaper reported. After the incident, she reportedly sent a cake to some flight attendants bearing the inscription: “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

Alaska Airlines has banned over 500 people.

Thompson said the length of Reinbold’s ban will be determined by a review.

Reinbold posted on her personal social media account that she undertook a 14-hour drive through Canada to board a ferry to take her to Juneau on Sunday.

This story has been updated by Alaska Public Media to include more recent information about Sen. Reinbold’s travel to Juneau.

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