Masks and Socks at TSA Security Point. Photo: TSA

MIAMI – Yesterday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said that it is taking action and implementing fines for those travelers who do not wear masks at airports and on other modes of transport.

According to a report by Reuters news service, the TSA is proposing about US$90,000 in fines relating to 190 mask violations through Monday. Over 5,000 incidents have been reported since February and the agency has issued warnings to 2,200 of those violators.

To date, the TSA has not been proactive in initiating fines to enforce the mask mandate. Reports from investigations initiated by the US House of Representatives says that the TSA has issued only US$2,350 in total fines to 10 passengers, despite thousands of others failing to uphold the mas mandate.

The report says that House Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who chairs the House transportation subcommittee, said despite 4,102 reports of mask-related incidents TSA had issued just 10 fines through Sept. 13.

“We urge you to implement these enhanced penalties to curb the rising number of mask-related disruptive passenger incidents,” the lawmakers wrote.

Photo: Helen Palma/Airways

TSA Response

The TSA responded on Thursday saying it has “taken steps to make enforcement and compliance more meaningful, including by increasing the penalties, reducing the processing time from receipt of incident reports to the issuance of enforcement actions and frequent and routine interaction with air carriers to improve incident reporting.”

The agency has noted that about 200 people have faced criminal penalties. Also, since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 85 assaults on TSA agents.

The TSA currently requires masks on trains, buses and at airports. The requirement runs through January 18, 2022.

Reuters reports that the FAA, likewise, has received 4,941 unruly passenger reports. This number includes 3,580 mask-related incidents.

Last month, the TSA said it was doubling penalties for violating the transportation mask mandate. Penalties will now be US$500-$1,000 for first offenders and US$1,000-$3,000 for second offenders.

Featured image: TSA