A Republican state senator from Alaska who staunchly opposes COVID-19 restrictions has been banned from Alaska Airlines for refusing to wear a mask while flying.
Alaska State Sen. Lora Reinbold was handed the no-fly order by airline management after she resisted multiple requests by staff to abide by its policies requiring masks for all passengers.
“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.
Reinbold was captured on video last week arguing with Alaska Airlines staff in Juneau International Airport over her refusal to wear a mask covering her nose and mouth.
The Republican lawmaker from the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River claims she was simply inquiring about a “mask exemption” and accused airline workers of being “uptight.”
Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) (Becky Bohrer/)
“I was reasonable with all Alaska Airlines employees,” she said.
Reinbold was eventually allowed on the Anchorage-bound flight but the airline’s probe resulted in the ban.
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 mandate was enacted by President Biden in his first days in office.
The lawmaker last year branded 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 tried to patch things up by sending a cake to some flight attendants bearing the inscription: “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
Alaska Airlines has banned over 500 people for resisting their coronavirus restrictions. The length of the ban will be determined by a review, the airline said.
Reinhold may have trouble shuttling back and forth to the state capital of Juneau if she remains banned for long.
It’s a 20-hour drive from her home to the capital city and Alaska Airlines offers the only scheduled air service.
Alaska state lawmakers can participate in committee meetings by teleconference but cannot vote on the House or Senate floor remotely.
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