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TSA Doubles Fines For Passengers Who Refuse To Wear Face Masks On Planes

ONTARIO (CBSLA) — The fine for refusing to wear a mask on public transportation -- including airplanes, trains, and buses – will double immediately, the TSA announced this week.

President Biden also announced the fine increase in his speech, saying, "If you break the rules, be prepared to pay and, by the way, show some respect."

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Passengers wearing protective masks onboard a Boeing Co. 737-800 operated by Avelo Airlines ahead of the airline's inaugural flight at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) in Burbank, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. New money is flowing to low-cost airlines in the U.S. as they take on giant carriers racing to recover from the unprecedented collapse in travel during the pandemic. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal mask mandate, which was implemented on Feb. 2, remains in effect until Jan. 18, 2022. The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, will be $500 to $1,000 for a first offense, and $1,000 to $3,000 for second offenders.

"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.

"Listen, whatever it takes to protect oneself and others, yes, I'll go for it 100%," airline passenger Sherin Aref said.

Not everybody at Ontario International Airport, however, felt the same about donning a mask while traveling by plane.

"It's all a bunch of crap," passenger Joe Moya said, adding that he's wears a mask just to comply, so he can get to his destination without any trouble.

The increased fines come at the end of a summer travel season that has seen a large uptick in violent confrontations between passengers and flight attendants over the federal mask mandate. In one shocking incident, an attack on an attendant on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego knocked out two of her teeth and left her face bloody.

The TSA says mask mandate-related penalties are separate from the civil penalties issued by the FAA for people who engage in "unruly and unsafe behavior."

In 2021 alone, the FAA has issued more than $1 million in fines for disruptive behavior.

Airline passenger Kerry Allison said she doesn't believe the mask-related fine increase will matter at all, saying if someone is crazy and wants to take their mask off on the plane, they'll probably do it anyway.

Chuck Dawson, another airline passenger, said he thinks TSA's announcement will just serve to stir things up even worse in the skies.

"I just think it's silly. I think in general that it's just a bunch of overkill. I think it just causes a more divided nation and more crazy," Dawson said.


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