Alaska Airlines has banned an Alaska state lawmaker from its flights for violating its mask policies, the company said.
The lawmaker, Lora Reinbold, a Republican state senator, was captured on video arguing with employees at Juneau International Airport about the airline’s mask rules, according to footage posted on Twitter.
“We need you to pull the mask up, or I’m not going to let you on the flight,” an airport employee is heard saying to Ms. Reinbold on the videos, which were posted on Thursday.
“It is up,” Ms. Reinbold responds.
“It is not,” an employee says. “It’s down below your nose. We can’t have it down.”
It was not clear if she was permitted on the flight and one of the videos showed her leaving the boarding area. In the videos, Ms. Reinbold can be seen wearing a mask. It was not clear what prompted the confrontation at the airport or what happened immediately before the footage was taken.
Ms. Reinbold said on Facebook she learned on Saturday that she was banned from flying with the airline.
“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 airline said, adding that the suspension is being reviewed.
Ms. Reinbold said that she was suspended before getting a chance to speak to someone from the airline and that she did not get “a warning via a yellow card per their policy either,” according to a post on Facebook.
“There was no due process before a temporary decision that is ‘under review’ was made public,” she wrote. “Alaska Airlines sent information, including my name, to the media without my knowledge nor permission. I do believe constitutional rights are at risk under corporate covid policies.”
The clash over the company’s rule was the latest to surface in the country about masks during the pandemic. Mask mandates have become a rallying cry for some activists and a divisive political talking point. Disputes about the rules have sometimes led to angry confrontations.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Senator Rand Paul, a Republican of Kentucky, suggested President Biden should “go on national TV, take his mask off and burn it” to motivate Americans to get vaccinated.
A federal mandate issued in January requires travelers to wear masks on planes and at airports, as well as on other modes of public transportation, including trains.
Under the federal mandate, the only travelers exempt from wearing a mask include children ages under 2, a person with a disability who cannot wear one or someone “for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty.”
“I test negative weekly,” Ms. Reinbold wrote. “I hope people can hear the truth of my actual actions thru the media mischaracterization.”
Ms. Reinbold’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
On Sunday, Ms. Reinbold posted on Facebook that she had traveled to Juneau, Alaska, by road and ferry. Without a flight, the trip from the Anchorage area to Juneau takes more than 19 hours.
Last week’s episode is not the first confrontation that Ms. Reinbold has had with Alaska Airlines. She has previously complained about the company on Facebook.
“Mask bullies in full force,” Ms. Reinbold said of a flight with Alaska Airlines. “Sadly Alaska airlines is part of mask tyranny and not providing proof required in law they help stop the spread (I can show they cause health problems).”
In February, Gov. Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, a Republican, sent a letter to Ms. Reinbold asking her to stop sharing misinformation about the pandemic.
“It is clear you have abdicated the tenets of your oath as a public servant,” Mr. Dunleavy wrote. “You impugned the motivations of unelected and nonpolitical employees working for the State of Alaska with baseless allegations that, on multiple occasions, were demonstrated to you to be false.”
In March, Ms. Reinbold said on Facebook that she was asked to leave a committee hearing because she was not wearing an approved face shield. After that, Ms. Reinbold was banned from the State Capitol until she complied with health and safety protocols.
“My actions are to protect my constitutional rights, including civil liberties and those who I represent, even under immense pressure and public scrutiny,” Ms. Reinbold said.
Ms. Reinbold has since returned to the State Capitol in a clear face mask.
Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics