Alaska lawmaker asks to be excused from sessions because she is banned from airline over mask rules

The Alaska State Senate has given a lawmaker four months off the legislative floor after she was banned from the only airline traveling to the state capital for refusing to wear her mask properly.

Lora Reinbold, a Republican who represents a suburb of Anchorage, was filmed arguing with Alaska Airlines employees in April. In the video, she took employees’ names down and filmed them as they asked her to cover her nose.

On Thursday, she told her colleagues she can’t appear in person for floor votes between September 11 and January 15  ‘because there’s no airline other than Alaska Airlines that flies into Juneau during that period that I’m aware of.’

‘The political ban is still in place as long as Biden’s illegitimate mask mandate is in place on private and public transportation,’ she said, according to the New York Times.

Reinbold represents the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River, which is 833 mi by road to the capital of Juneau.

Alaska State Senator Lora Reinbold, 57, has been excused from the legislative floor for four months due to travel difficulties stemming from her ban from Alaska Airlines

On Thursday, she blamed Alaska Airlines for ‘undermining our representative republic’

In April, the Republican lawmaker was banned from the airline indefinitely after arguing with staff over mask rules. The incident was caught on video and shared on social media

The Republican-led chamber accepted her request without objection. 

Days after the airport incident in April, Reinbold worked around the airline ban by completing a 500-mile, 40-hour trek to the state capital by car and ferry.

On Thursday, she took to Facebook to argue that airlines’ mask rules could ‘undermine our representative republic.’

‘I asked to be excused because Delta last flight out is Sept 11. Sen Steadman & Von Imhoff have asked for longer excusals. To be excused does NOT mean you will not be here, it means the legislative process cannot be inhibited if you are not there,’ she said.

Federal Aviation Authority investigations have soared after the COVID-19 pandemic, largely driven by passengers refusing to cooperate with pandemic protocols

‘Maybe its time to proceed on moving the legislature to the road system. If the only airline, that has flights during session to Juneau, can unconstitutionally impede a legislators ability to get to the Capital in a safe and timely fashion, it could undermine our representative republic.’

The Federal Aviation Authority has seen a huge increase in in-flight disturbances since the beginning of the pandemic, largely due to passengers refusing to follow COVID-19 protocol.

The agency has initiated 752 investigations so far this year, up from 146 investigation in all of 2019.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that the Transportation Security Administration would be doubling fines to $500 for passengers who refuse to wear masks. Second fines would be $3,000.

In a different incident last year, Reinbold called airline staff ‘mask bullies’ because of COVID-19 rules. She reportedly apologized by sending a cake that read, ‘I’m sorry if I offended you.’

‘If you break the rules, be prepared to pay – and by the way, show some respect,’ he said.

Reinbold, 57, is from the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River. She’s been a member of the Alaska legislature since 2013, when she started as a member of the State House of Representatives.

Video from April shows airline staff telling Reinbold her mask must cover her nose and mouth. In a second video, Reinbold appears to be filming the staff.

Reinbold told Anchorage Daily News that she 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.

Days after her travel ban in April, Reinbold completed a 40-hour, 500-mile journey by car and ferry from her home district to the Alaska capital of Juneau 

‘Please thank my husband for giving up his birthday to make a long unexpected trip to Juneau by road/ferry system!’ she wrote on Facebook at the time.

The work-around was longer than a flight, and included crossing the Canadian border

She insisted that she had been ‘respectful’ of the airline’s policy, and darkly insinuated that the airline ban was part of a plot to prevent her from voting against the disaster bill. 

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 Anchorage Daily News reported. 

After the incident, she reportedly sent a cake to some flight attendants bearing the inscription: ‘I’m sorry if I offended you.’ 

Plane vs Boat: Anchorage to Juneau

Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry

  • Roughly 36-hour journey
  • Tickets $266
  • Runs three times a month

Alaska Airlines Flight

  • Flight takes 90 to 100 minutes
  • Tickets around $400
  • Three nonstop flights a day 

Alaska Airlines, which has banned over 500 people, says that Reinbold is banned from flying with them ‘while the federal mask policy is in place.’

‘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,’ the airline said in a statement.

In April, Reinbold completed a 40-hour trek by car and ferry to the state capitol after being banned from Alaska Airlines.

She made it in time to vote against a key bill extending Alaska’s pandemic state of emergency.

‘Alaska I went to new heights to serve you & have a new appreciation for the marine ferry system. I am keenly aware of the monopoly in air transport to Juneau that needs reviewed!’ she wrote on Facebook at the time.

‘Please thank my husband for giving up his birthday to make a long unexpected trip to Juneau by road/ferry system!’ she added.

Reinbold has been outspoken on her position against mask mandates and has questioned the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

‘Why would you get an experimental MRNA “vax” still under EUA emergency use authorization even after you had covid? To oddly virtue signal to encourage others?’ she wrote on Facebook in April. 

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, also a Republican, accused Reinbold of spreading misinformation in a letter in February.

He wrote: ‘You have used your position as a member of the Alaska State Senate to publicly misrepresent the State of Alaska’s response to a global health crisis. 

‘You impugned the motivations of unelected and non-political employees working for the State of Alaska with baseless allegations that, on multiple occasions, were demonstrated to you to be false.

‘Time and again, when provided the information unequivocally illustrating the blatant inaccuracies in your public statements about the State of Alaska’s health responses, you persisted in continuing to betray the public trust with those statements.’

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