Update 8:30 p.m.: It’s official. Alaska Airlines confirmed it had taken the action against Reinbold, providing media outlets with the following statement, “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. This suspension is effective immediately pending further review. 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.” Reinbold’s Facebook response has been added to the end of this post.
It doesn’t look like her “I’m sorry if I offended you” cake is going to cut it this time.
Just days after her latest confrontation with Alaska Airlines staff at the Juneau airport, Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold has been reportedly barred from flying with the airline or with sister carrier Horizon Airlines. A source provided The Midnight Sun with an internal communication stating that “Guest Reibold (sic) is no longer welcome Alaska and Horizon Air. Please refer any questions to customer care.”
The airline has since confirmed the action, explaining in a statement that “she is not permitted to fly with us for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy. This suspension is effective immediately pending further review.”
It’s not immediately clear how Reinbold would be able to return to the ongoing legislative session if she is in fact barred from flying with Alaska Airlines, the only commercial carrier with flights to Juneau. The Alaska Marine Highway System, which requires travelers to present proof of a negative covid-19 test or of vaccination and also wear masks for the duration of the trip, has a sailing leaving Whittier on Monday and arriving in Juneau on Wednesday afternoon. Otherwise it’s a 750-mile drive through Canada to Haines where a charter flight or ferry ride would be needed.
The Senate passed a measure earlier this session that would allow members to participate in floor sessions remotely but the measure has yet to be approved by the House so it can not be used at this point.
Video shared by the Alaska Landmine shows Reinbold being confronted by Alaska Airlines staff and security officers while flying from Juneau to Anchorage on Thursday afternoon. In the videos, several people are seen trying to explain the masking requirements to Reinbold and one can be clearly heard saying “We need you to pull the mask up or I’m not going to let you on the plane.”
When Reinbold—who can be seen holding her phone up to presumably record the employees while seemingly narrating much of the interaction—claims it is the employee sharply responds, “It is not. It’s down below your nose.” Reinbold responds by asking him for his name.
It’s not the first time that the extreme-right senator has made a public display over masking and not the first time it’s been with Alaska Airlines. Last year, she took to Facebook to complain about an in-flight interaction with Alaska Airlines, referring to airline staffers as “mask bullies,” that ended with her sending them a cake that literally says “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
In the Legislature, she’s been a constant source of headaches for legislators and staffers alike. She’s been removed from several committees for refusing to wear a proper mask (flaunting various plastic face shields for most of session), been excluded from the Senate activities, fined $250 and most recently had her membership on the Senate Judiciary Committee terminated for failing to treat others with respect. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said publicly that he would be withholding state cooperation with the committee after he said he had enough with Reinbold’s spreading of lies and disinformation.
While other legislators have expressed frustration with masking and the Alaska Capitol Building’s health precautions, only Reinbold has regularly run afoul of the rules.
After the airline confirmed the ban, Reinbold took to Facebook to complain about “uptight employees as the counter” and claim that the rest of the flight was perfectly fine and pleasant. She also pointed out, for some reason, that the has MVP status.