Airline Bans Alaska Lawmaker Over Her 'Continued Refusal' to Wear a Mask as She Blames 'Uptight' Workers
Days after being recorded in an altercation with airline staff about their enforcement of masks, Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold has been banned from flying aboard Alaska Airlines.
Airline spokesman Tim Thompson told media outlets including the Anchorage Daily News: "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."
The news that Reinbold had been barred from the airline came days after she was filmed at the Juneau airport, where she had reportedly refused to wear a mask properly, according to The Alaska Landmine, which first published the video on Thursday.
In the footage, Reinbold can be seen wearing a mask and talking to two employees while a police officer stands nearby.
As she attempts to enter the boarding area, another employee steps in to tell her he cannot let her enter the plane unless she pulls her mask above her nose.
Reinbold then asks the employee his name before the video ends. She said in a subsequent statement on social media, "I was reasonable with all Alaska Airlines employees."
The airline did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Reinbold, a Republican, has been a vocal opponent of mask mandates and last year criticized Alaska Airlines in a Facebook post shared by the Daily News.
"Mask bullies in full force on Alaskans Airlines," she wrote in the November post. "All because a scaredy cat Karen whined loudly and was a Tattle tail when I took my dumb worthless suffocating mask off, a bit longer than she wanted, for my food and drink."
In that post, Reinbold suggested masks were not a useful preventative measure — despite the health consensus otherwise — and accused the airline of "mask tyranny."
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend masks for the general public, and studies have supported the efficacy of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Even as some states and local governments have dropped mask mandates, many companies continue to enforce mask-wearing, which is within their legal right, according to experts.
In a follow-up post on her Facebook page (also surfaced by the Daily News), Reinbold suggested people bypass coronavirus tests when boarding flights, writing, "sneak by if you are bold fir [sic] they cannot force you."
Reinbold's ban poses a logistical challenge, as Alaska Airlines operates the only regular flights to the state capital from Anchorage, where she lives, according to the Daily News.
On Sunday, according to a post on her Facebook page, Reinbold used a car and a ferry to travel to the capital — a trip that likely took upwards of 14 hours, according to The Washington Post, and coincided with her husband's birthday.
In the statement to her Facebook page on Sunday, Reinbold said she believed her ban "should be confidential," claiming that there was "no due process" before the decision was made.
She continued: "I was reasonable with all Alaska Airlines employees. I have been flying on Alaska Air for decades amd am an MVP gold. I inquired about mask exemption with uptight employees at the counter ... I was respectful of Alaska Airlines policies. We had a pleasant safe flight with happy flight attendants and great talented pilots.
"I hope to be on an Alaska Airlines flight in the near future."