TSA Just Doubled Fines for Passengers Who Refuse to Mask up on Planes

Passengers who violate the federal mask mandate will be charged $500 to $1000 for a first offense and $1000 to $3000 for a second offense.

The Transportation Security Administration on Friday doubled the penalty for travelers who refuse to wear masks on planes as reports of unruly passengers have painted a grim picture this year.

Going forward, passengers who violate the federal mask mandate will be charged $500 to $1000 for a first offense and $1000 to $3000 for a second offense, according to the TSA.

"Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable," Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement. "We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety."

TSA line
Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Masks have been required on public transportation, including on planes and in airports, since January and the mandate has since been extended until at least Jan. 18, 2022. Due to an alarming increase in reports of unruly passengers this year — the majority of which concern passengers who refuse to wear masks — the Federal Aviation Administration proposed more fines against passengers last month, bringing the total civil penalties in 2021 up to more than $1 million.

"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," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. "By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence."

To combat the problem, some airlines have ceased serving alcohol on board. American Airlines stopped serving alcoholic drinks in March 2020 due to the pandemic and won't resume in the main cabin until at least Jan. 18, 2022. And Southwest had initially intended to bring back alcoholic beverages in June, but put those plans on hold.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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