The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week increased penalties for those not complying with mask mandates on airplanes or at airports.
Starting now, 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 mandates, which have been in place by the TSA since February 2021 though some airlines had implemented earlier in the pandemic, will remain in place until at least Jan 18, 2022.
“Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”
“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”
The TSA also reminded passengers that these mask mandate-related civil penalties are separate from the civil penalties the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues for individuals who engage in unruly and unsafe behavior.
As of last month, those FAA fines now exceed more than $1 million across 3,889 incidents in the sky. About 75% of those incidents have come from passengers refusing to comply with the face mask mandate.
The FAA has taken extraordinary steps to try and get passengers to comply with the new COVID-19 rules, including a marketing campaign that asked passengers to treat airplanes like a trip to grandma’s house.