On February 1, 2020, the TSA instituted a mask requirement in airports and aboard commercial aircraft. There are plenty of stories of passengers flouting the rules and becoming combative when employees or passengers dared ask them to wear their masks properly during a flight. It’s part of the reason for the massive increase of in-flight incidents requiring the help of law enforcement.
It took until mid-January 2021 for the FAA to get serious about people who were still breaking the rules. That’s when they instituted a cash penalty that started at $250 and increasing for subsequent violations. While the federal government said they could not legally institute a national no-fly list, individual airlines could ban customers for bad behavior.
Airlines have each compiled lists of people who are no longer allowed to fly with them There’s even a push to have airlines share lists keeping troublemakers from simply flying with a different carrier. While Delta is in favor of this policy, Southwest and American, so far, apparently aren’t on board.
There’s an interesting twist to this while story, involving an anti-masker needing to travel for work to a city where there’s only a single airline that services the airport.
Several cities in the U.S. only have one airline. Since the economics of these flights rarely works, the airlines will often receive government subsidies to keep service to the airport running. But other smaller airports are busy enough to warrant commercial traffic, such as when the said city is the state capital.
Juneau is the capital of Alaska.
Alaska is huge. By area, it’s larger than the next 3 largest states (Texas, California and Montana) combined. That’s why it’s a problem if you live in Alaska and behave so badly that you get put on Alaska Airlines’ “no-fly list.” Especially if you have to fly to Juneau for work.
Juneau airport is almost exclusively served by Alaska Airlines.
If you’re State Sen. Lora Reinbold, a Republican representing an Anchorage suburb, it presents a dilemma. What happens if your anti-mask posturing leads you to get banned in April 2021 from the only airline that can take you from your home district to the state capital?
Apparently, you ask to be excused from work. Sen. Reinbold asked to be excused from attending the capital to take part in votes. To be fair, she only asked that her absence not prevent the Senate from conducting normal business.
Her statement on Facebook described her position.
“I asked to be excused because Delta last flight out is Sept 11,” Reinbold wrote in a Facebook post. “To be excused does NOT mean you will not be here, it means the legislative process cannot be inhibited if you are not there.”
Take in for a minute that’s she’s admits flying with Delta after being banned from Alaska. No wonder Delta wants other airlines to share their no-fly lists.
Alaska Airlines did make a comment about Sen. Reinbold’s placement on the do-not fly list due to the incident on April 24, 2021.
Since then, a review did happen and the suspension was upheld.
While some may find the flying ban unfair, the senator has managed to get from Anchorage to Juneau for previous sessions. As per the Washington Post:
While it’s possible to drive from Anchorage to Juneau — and Reinbold said she has made the trek herself after the ban — it’s an arduous journey of about 800 miles that takes two days of travel.
It starts with several hundred miles of Alaska Route 1, a narrow wilderness highway with some tight curves and few passing lanes. The next leg crosses the Canadian border and cuts through the Yukon. Then, it’s a relatively quick hop to Haines, Alaska, on the southern coast. From there, it’s a four-hour ferry ride to the state capital.
In the end, the whole saga seems to be much ado about nothing. According to the voting rolls of the Alaska Legislature, Sen. Reinbold managed to get to Juneau for the most recent special session, which took place just 4 days after the story hit the news wires.
I’m glad she was there to vote on AK SB12 – An Act relating to temporary courtesy licenses for military spouses; and relating to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The bill won in an 18-0 vote.
Which leads one to ask, was this just a big publicity stunt if she was already planning to attend the special session? She surely didn’t think that Alaska Airlines was going to drop the ban on such a high-profile anti-masker?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary