‘Mask Bullies’: Alaska Airlines bans state lawmaker for refusing to follow masking rules

An Alaskan state lawmaker who had called flight attendants “mask bullies” and clashed with airline employees over mask rules was banned from the airline for her “continued refusal to comply” with the mask policy, the airline said in a statement.

“This suspension is effective immediately pending further review,” Alaska Airlines spokeman Tim Thompson said in the statement. “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 traveling through an airport.”

Alaska Airlines is the only airline that operates flights between the Republican state senator Lora Reinbold’s home north of Anchorage and the state capital in Juneau.

The ban means she had to drive more than 14 hours, including a portion of the trip through Canada, and take a ferry to reach the state Capitol.

On a facebook post Reinbold wrote that she had gone to “new heights” to serve Alaska and that she is “keenly aware of the monopoly in air transport to Juneau that needs reviewed”.

Reinbold added she was “reasonable with all Alaska Airlines employees” and felt the airline should have kept the issue confidential until further review.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Monday that it is “looking into an incident” involving a state lawmaker who Alaska Airlines said refused to wear a mask on its flights. The FAA did not provide further details about its investigation but said it is “strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions.”

Reinbold has been critical of the Covid-19 public health policy and has used her position as the chair of the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on whether restrictions are constitutional.