Airline bans Alaska state senator for violating mask rules

AP General
Lora Reinbold

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing in Juneau, Alaska. Alaska Airlines has banned the Alaska state senator for refusing to follow mask requirements. 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 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. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

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.

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 videoposted 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.

It wasn’t immediately known how Reinbold, who was in southcentral Alaska this weekend, would be able to get to Juneau where the legislative session resumes Monday. No other airline has scheduled flights between Anchorage and Juneau, and a ferry trip could take several days.

Lawmakers can participate in committee meetings by teleconference but cannot vote on the House or Senate floor remotely under current procedures.

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