Even as more destinations wind down their pandemic-era rules, perhaps the most impactful mandate is staying in place.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is extending the federal mask mandate on airplanes and in airports at least another month.
According to reports citing both White House and TSA officials, the mask mandate will now extend at least through April 18.
That date could mark the end of the mandate, though the TSA has given no indication as of yet, and the TSA plans to continue working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other government agencies, to come up with a framework to wind down the rules in the future.
That's something that U.S. Travel Association continues to push for, too. In a statement on Thursday, president and CEO said called for the return of normal travel rules.
"The Biden administration urgently needs to send a clear message to the American public and the world that it is safe to travel again, particularly for vaccinated individuals, despite this 30-day extension of the federal mask mandate. We continue to urge the federal government to phase out the mask requirement and put forward a clear plan for travelers within this 30-day period," he said.
“The travel industry continues to be challenged with a slow economic recovery even with improved public health metrics in the U.S. and medical advancements, especially in the business and international travel segments."
The original mask mandate was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic and has since been extended twice. The enforcement of the mandate, tasked mostly to flight attendants, has since caused some chaos in the air, with fines for disobeying the mandate now exceeding more than $1 million across close to 4,000 incidents in the sky.
The TSA will continue to fine passengers who disobey the order and cause issues—first-time offenders will now be fined between $500 to $1,000, up from $250 prior, while repeat offenders will be faced with fines somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000.
The TSA went one step farther earlier this year, announcing that passengers who cause issues onboard airplane could soon lose their PreCheck credentials.
“TSA has zero tolerance for the unruly behaviors, especially those involving physical assault occurring aboard aircraft. We have tremendous respect for airport staff, gate agents, and flight crews that get people safely to their destinations,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions.”
“If you act out of line, you will wait in line,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. “Our partnership aims to promote safe and responsible passenger behavior. One unruly incident is one too many.”