On June 24, 2021, Seattle outdoorswoman Sara Gamache was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight after a dispute regarding her mask. On July 3, political blog Must Read Alaska owner Suzanne Downing published a fabricated account of the incident, falsely claiming that Gamache had been removed merely because she had worn a “Trump 2020” mask. In fact, according to video and a statement issued by Gamache herself, Gamache had attempted to wear a prohibited mesh mask, argued with flight attendants, and then donned a mask with a Trump 2020 logo and the text “Fuck your feelings.” Alaska Airlines policy prohibits the “wearing or display of offensive, threatening, or intimidating statements or symbols.”
On July 9, the Landmine published a story debunking the claim that Gamache had been removed from the flight only for wearing a “Trump 2020” mask.
Downing’s fabricated account was shared widely on social media and sparked outrage and calls to boycott the airline, which employs almost 2,000 people in Alaska. The conservative news network OAN picked up the fake story, running a segment claiming that Gamache had been ejected from the flight “simply for wearing a Trump 2020 mask.”
On Wednesday evening, Alaska Airlines issued a statement regarding the incident. According to the statement, Gamache was deplaned after causing disruptions on multiple flights going back to January, refusing to follow instructions from airline staff, attempting to violate federal law regarding masking on airplanes, and violating Alaska Airlines’ policy prohibiting profanity. The full statement is as follows:
Sara Gamache threatened legal action and called for a boycott of Alaska Airlines after being removed from a flight on June 24, 2021. Ms. Gamache falsely claims that she was removed for wearing a mask with a pro-Trump political slogan. In fact, she was removed for refusing to follow crewmember instructions on multiple flights and because a profane statement appeared on the mask in violation of Alaska’s policy.
After boarding her June 24 flight in a mesh mask, Ms. Gamache became confrontational when a flight attendant requested that she wear a proper mask in compliance with federal law. Ms. Gamache reluctantly agreed to do so, but then put on a mask that said “Trump 2020; Fuck your Feelings.” The flight attendant informed Ms. Gamache that the profanity violated Alaska policy and that she needed to change masks yet again, which escalated Ms. Gamache’s disruptive behavior. Per Alaska’s procedure, Ms. Gamache was asked to exit the aircraft. The video Ms. Gamache posted on social media was taken after her confrontational exchange with crewmembers, once she changed her mask for a third time.
This was the second incident in which Ms. Gamache defied crewmember requests to comply with the federal mask policy. In January, Ms. Gamache received a yellow card for repeated refusals to wear an appropriate mask. We expect our customers to comply with Alaska policies and federal law when they choose to fly with us. We must take action when they refuse to do so. We’re thankful and appreciative of the efforts of our dedicated crewmembers who are committed each day to keeping travel safe and respectful.