Aviation

Alaskan senator cops airline ban for refusing to follow mask rules

An Alaskan senator has had her commute extended by almost 20 hours after she was banned from flying with Alaska Airlines for refusing to follow its mask policy.

Senator Lora Reinbold, who has been vocal about her opposition to compulsory face coverings, was told she would no longer be allowed to fly with the airline for her “continued refusal” to comply with its mask policy, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines told Anchorage Daily News.

“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 travelling through an airport,” the spokesman said.

The ban came after a video surfaced of Reinbold arguing with Alaska Airlines staff about the airline’s ask policy. Police were reportedly called to the scene but did not take any enforcement action.

Reinbold told Anchorage Daily News that she was reasonable with airline staff.

“I have been flying on Alaska Air for decades and am an MVP Gold (frequent flyer). I inquired about mask exemption with uptight employees at the counter,” she said.

The suspension has left Reinbold in a bit of a pickle, considering no other airline has regularly scheduled, direct flights between Anchorage and Juneau, which is crucial in her journey to the Alaskan senate.

Over the weekend, the senator drove for nearly 14 hours from her home in Eagle River, including through Canada, and took a five-hour ferry ride to reach Juneau.

“I am keenly aware of the monopoly in air transport to Juneau that needs reviewed! Please thank my husband for giving up his birthday to make a long unexpected trip to Juneau by road/ferry system!” she said in a post to her Facebook page.

Reinbold said in another post that she did not have a chance to discuss the ban with the airline. She claims the airline told the media of its decision before notifying her and without her knowledge or permission.

“I never received a warning via a yellow card per their policy either. There was no due process before a temporary decision that is “under review” was made public,” she said.

However, Reinbold has had run-ins with the airline in the past, with Anchorage Daily News reporting that she had been vocal in her criticism of the airline’s mask policy in the past.

In November last year, Reinbold called the airline staff “mask bullies” and said the airline was “part of mask tyranny” in a Facebook post.

She said she was approached by cabin crew because “a scaredy-cat Karen” had “whined loudly and was a (tattletale) when I took my dumb, worthless, suffocating mask off, a bit longer than she wanted, for my food and drink.”

The airline has required passengers to wear a mask since May 2020 and announced in August that passengers who are unwilling to wear a mask while travelling with Alaska Airlines would be “suspended from future travel”.

Travel Weekly has approached Alaska Airlines for comment.


Featured image source: Facebook/Lora Reinbold

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