TSA Issued Over $600,000 in Fines to Air, Transit Passengers Violating Mask Mandate

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
March 17, 2022US News
TSA Issued Over $600,000 in Fines to Air, Transit Passengers Violating Mask Mandate
People walk through Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix where new COVID-19 cases are down but health experts warn cases may rise with the introduction of the omicron strain in Phoenix, Arizona, on Dec. 18, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued more than 900 civil penalties and over 2,700 warnings since February 2021 against individuals who failed to comply with federal face mask requirements, the government reported on Monday.

In a TSA report (pdf), the U.S. agency said it had proposed $644,398 in fines to 922 people who did not comply with a transit mandate requiring people to wear a mask. The fines were issued on commercial flights, in airports and train stations, or on public transit services.

Most fines came from onboard aircraft incidents, where 788 individuals were fined for a total of $501,388, averaging $636. The highest average came from airport checkpoint fines, where 18 people received a civil penalty, totaling $57,065, averaging $3,170.

Since the start of 2021, the FAA has investigated reports of 6,800 unruly airplane passengers including about 4,800 for not wearing masks. It has opened 450 investigations and proposed more than $5 million in fines.

Other fines include surface transportation incidents, where 44 individuals were fined for a total of $28,150, while 72 other individuals at airports premises received fines totaling $57,795.

In late October, TSA said it had proposed $85,990 in fines for 190 mask violators and issued warnings to more than 2,200.

The U.S. agency announced last week it is extending its mask mandate for at least another month until mid-April at airports and on airplanes.

The mandate, which stems from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that was issued on Jan. 29, 2021, and applies to transportation such as trains and transportation hubs such as airports, had been due to expire on March 18.

Two major aviation groups have also recently called for COVID-19-related restrictions to be lifted, citing a downward trend of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus hospitalizations and deaths due to herd immunity and a study that shows the effects of those measures are limited.

The Airports Council International Europe (ACI) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for “all remaining COVID restrictions applying to intra-EU and Schengen area travel to be dropped, including all testing requirements, the need to present proof of vaccination, or complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF),” reads a statement.

ACI Europe is a trade group representing over 500 airports in 55 countries, covering over 90 percent of commercial air traffic in Europe. IATA represents 290 airlines in 120 countries and carries 83 percent of air traffic worldwide.

Allen Zhong and Reuters contributed to this report.

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