Mask violations: TSA issued hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines

FOX Business Flash top headlines for March 15

Here are your FOX Business Flash top headlines for March 15.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued more than $640,000 in proposed fines to passengers who did not comply with mask mandates. 

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, between Feb. 2, 2021, and March 7, 2022, 922 people were fined for causing security incidents related to the face mask directives. The agency issued 2,709 warnings.

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Of those incidents, the majority – 88% – were onboard an aircraft and on the airport premises. 

"Similarly, 88% of TSA’s enforcement actions for passengers who refused to wear a face mask were also for incidents onboard aircraft. Of the 3,631 enforcement actions taken by TSA, 75% (2,709) were warning notices while 25% (922) were civil penalty assessments," the GAO said. 

In this May 24, 2020, file photo, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant prepares a plane bound for Orlando, Fla. for takeoff Sunday, at Kansas City International airport in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Comparatively, according to the House Committee on Homeland Security, between Feb. 2 and Sept. 13, 2021, the TSA received 4,102 reports of mask-related incidents, with warnings issued to more than 2,000 passengers and an assessment of only $2,350 in civil penalties against 10 passengers.

While mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed for most indoor settings across the U.S., federal officials announced last week that the TSA would extend its mask mandate until April 18. 

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The mandate was initially set to expire on March 18, but the agency said the extra month will give the CDC ample time to develop new, more targeted policies that will ease the nationwide mask mandate on airplanes and other mass transit next month.

"During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science," the CDC said in a statement. "We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change."

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Both the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigate incidents in which people do not comply with mask mandates. 

In 2021, the FAA said it proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers, with 5,981 unruly passenger reports. 

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The FAA reported 4,290 mask-related incidents and 350 enforcement actions were initiated.

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