On June 24, 2021, my husband and I, (my husband is an active-duty United States Military member) boarded Alaska Airlines flight AS 1151 from Seattle to Denver. After taking our seats (my husband in the window seat and I in the middle), I turned into my husband’s shoulder to take a nap. I was having an extremely hard time breathing so I put on a breathable mask, not knowing of Alaska Airline’s apparent policy prohibiting mesh masks. Before takeoff, a male Alaska Airlines flight attendant was walking down the aisle doing a “mask check,” and woke me in order to inspect my mask. After realizing it was breathable mesh mask, he asked that I replace it with a solid fabric one. I immediately complied and took out another mask I had in my purse. The replacement mask is one which I have worn on several other Alaska Airlines flights and never had an issue.
The replacement mask reads: “Trump 2020" in large text and below the chin in small text "F$%# your Feelings.” The male flight attendant informed me the mask was “inappropriate”, and he would send another flight attendant to talk to me. After he left, I once again turned my head back towards my husband’s shoulder to attempt to sleep.
Five minutes passed, and another Alaska Airlines flight attendant named Dominique came to my seat stating that the mask violated an Alaska Airline’s policy. I politely explained that I have worn this mask on several other Alaska Flights with no issue and therefore, requested to see the policy relied upon by the attendant banning the mask. Dominique became visibly distraught and replied “REALY?! You are going to delay this flight to see a policy?!” I replied back, “Yes, I have that right.”
At this point, numerous passengers in the area began yelling at me and calling me names, angry that I asked for the policy. The Alaska Airlines flight attendants were aware of this harassment and did nothing to quell the other passengers. A few minutes later, Dominique returned stating she could not find the policy. She said: “You have two options, you either replace the Trump mask or you will be removed from the flight.” I calmly replied that I did not want to cause drama or delay the flight any longer and would change the mask. I immediately reached into my purse and put on a solid black mask “the third mask.” Dominique asked if I promised to wear it for the entire flight, and I promptly replied “yes.”
Now wearing an all-black mask, I once again turned into my husband and tried to sleep. However, I was awoken several minutes later by the original male Alaska Airlines flight attendant, the second attendant Dominique, and a third attendant. Dominique said, “we’ve changed our mind, you are being removed from the flight.” Her reasoning was that the Trump mask had made people feel “uncomfortable.” At this point I was confused and emotionally distraught since I had calmly complied to all the previous requests, respectfully and cordially without confrontation. Further, due to where I was seated and my attempts to sleep on my husband’s shoulder, the only people who had seen the mask were the flight attendants.
As I began to stand up, the entire back of the plane began yelling obscenities and profanities again with no attempt from the flight attendants to stop the harassment. At this point Dominique said that my husband (who has been silent the entire time,) was also being removed from the flight. I was especially confused by this, since my husband had not said an entire word from the time, he boarded the plane and was wearing a mask which was apparently acceptable to Alaska Airlines and their staff.
While both my husband and I de-boarded, the passengers at the back of the plane continued to heckle us and cheer. As we reached the exit, the Caucasian female flight attendant asked me “How does it feel to be humiliated?” to which I responded, “What do you mean?” She said, “the fact that you just got kicked off a plane and everyone is cheering.”
Upon exiting the aircraft, we were greeted by a very pleasant manager named Wendy. She documented our side of the story and handled the situation with poise and professionalism. Before we left the gate, Wendy informed us that she had rebooked us on a new Alaska Airlines flight that was departing the next day.
While leaving the SEATAC Airport, I received a call from Wendy informing me that flight AS 1151 ended up getting canceled and that ALL passengers from the flight would be rebooked on the new one the following day. The flight was canceled because it had been delayed 2 hours for weather in Denver, and then the 15 minutes from my incident (most of which was spent by Dominique looking for their "policy") put the time they have to get the plane off the ground over the threshold.
My husband and I chose not to board the rebooked flight on June 25, because we had a justified and reasonable fear for our safety and emotional wellbeing. We did not believe we would be safe seated on a plane with the same passengers and attendants who had previously taunted and threatened us just a day before.
Instead of reaching out to my husband and I to apologize or discuss the incident in a civil manner, Alaska Airlines had their insurance company send us a threatening letter claiming they can sue us for damages. They are claiming the flight was canceled solely because of the incident. However, the flight timed out because it had already been previously delayed 2 hours, for weather in Denver. Our incident was a mere 15 minutes, and most of that was the time spent searching for their policy, for which they never found. The plane was also still in the boarding process during my conversations with the flight attendants, so to blame us for the entire flight being canceled is ludicrous. Alaska Airline is threatening to sue us for the financial damages of the canceled flight if I do not remove the viral video from my social media. They are also stating that my husband was not asked to leave the flight, and he left on his own volition. This is a bold face lie, Dominque specifically said "You and your companion are being asked to get off the flight."
I am not surprised by the bullying and threats from Alaska Airlines. After talking to several whistleblower employees, this seems to be how the company likes to handle customer service and employment issues.
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