JUNEAU, Alaska — 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 video posted on 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 more than 500 people.
Thompson said the length of Reinbold's ban will be determined by a review.
Reinbold later posted on Facebook that she was taking a ferry instead.
"Alaska I went to new heights to serve you & have a new appreciation for the marine ferry system," she wrote. "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! Nothing could get in the way to be in the Capitol to fight to executive branch infringement on the legislature & defending your rights by trying to stop HB76 which is on the Senate floor tomorrow!"
Lawmakers can participate in committee meetings by teleconference but cannot vote on the House or Senate floor remotely under current procedures.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.