What happens if I refuse to wear a mask on a flight?

Health News

DENVER (KDVR) – If you don’t want to wear a mask while flying, you face being fined thousands of dollars, in addition to being removed from the plane. Masks are required for air and ground travel, including trains, maritime vessels, and intercity bus services.

If you don’t comply with the mask requirement, the Transportation Security Administration said penalties include fines of $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. In some circumstances, the Federal Aviation Administration can propose up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases.

The TSA extended its orders for mask-wearing requirements, for both air and ground travel, through January 18th, 2022, earlier this year.

Are there exemptions?

Yes. The TSA said exemptions include travelers under the age of 2 years old, those with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those for whom a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations

As of this week, more than 3,500 mask incidents have been reported by the FAA since the beginning of the year.

Credit: Federal Aviation Administration

According to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order, fines were doubled for those who are not in compliance with the mask requirement:

President Biden’s Executive Order, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, directed applicable agencies to take action to require mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of public transportation, including on many airplanes, trains, maritime vessels, and intercity bus services.

TSA has extended its implementing orders for air and ground travel through January 18th, 2022, and the President’s plan will double fines for those who are not in compliance. The President’s plan will also ensure that masking requirements remain in place on the other modes of transportation as we continue to battle COVID-19.

Violations

Violating the mask requirement can cost you thousands of dollars. Here are some of the fines passengers have received this year, according to the FAA:

  • $42,000 against a passenger on a May 16, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from Queens, New York, to San Francisco, California, for allegedly interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the face mask mandate; making non-consensual physical contact with another passenger; throwing a playing card at a passenger and threatening him with physical harm; making stabbing gestures towards certain passengers; and snorting what appeared to be cocaine from a plastic bag, which the cabin crew confiscated. The passenger became increasingly agitated and the crew equipped themselves with flex cuffs and ice mallets to ensure the safety of the flight if his behavior worsened. The flight diverted to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where law enforcement removed the passenger from the aircraft.
  • $29,000 against a passenger on an April 12, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Orlando, Florida, for allegedly interfering with crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate. She also shouted obscenities at the flight crew, and intentionally bumped into a seated passenger on her way to the lavatory. When the seated passenger objected to this behavior, she punched the passenger in the face. Law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate.
  • $19,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 11, 2021, American Airlines flight from Miami, Florida, to Nashville, Tennessee, for allegedly interfering with crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate; ignoring the fastened seatbelt sign; and pushing a flight attendant into another passenger with his hip.
  • $17,530 against a passenger on an April 16, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from San Diego, California, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for allegedly interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the face mask mandate; vaping on the aircraft; and drinking alcohol not served by the airline. Law enforcement met him at the gate.
  • $17,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 28, 2021, Republic Airlines flight from Key West, Florida, to Charlotte, North Carolina, for allegedly interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the face mask mandate; drinking alcohol not served by the airline; and attempting to use a vape pen. The aircraft returned from the gate and she was removed from the aircraft. 
  • $13,000 against a passenger on a Jan 29, 2021, Frontier Airlines flight from San Diego, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, for allegedly interfering with flight crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate and drinking alcohol that the airline did not serve to her.
  • $10,500 against a passenger on an April 29, 2021, Allegiant Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Covington, Kentucky, for his alleged interference with flight crew members after failure to comply with the face mask mandate and subsequently urinating on the lavatory floor, which leaked into the galley area.
  • $10,500 against a passenger on an April 2, 2021, Endeavor Airlines flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Jackson, Mississippi, for allegedly interfering with flight crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate; he was also combative with flight attendants after walking to the lavatory while the fastened seatbelt sign was on.
  • $10,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 9, 2021, Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to San Francisco, California, for allegedly interfering with flight crew members after failing to comply with the face mask mandate. He also acted as though his hand was a gun and made a “pew, pew” noise as if he was shooting a fellow passenger; after the doors closed but prior to pushback from the gate, he repeatedly pushed the call light button during a PA announcement by the captain and, when the flight attendant responded, he gestured at the PA system and responded in nonsensical babble. He then refused to deplane, which resulted in the removal of all passengers from the aircraft.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 18, 2021, Alaska Airlines flight from Denver, Colorado, to Seattle, Washington, for allegedly interfering with flight crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate; hiding a flight attendant’s jacket under his seat; punching the aircraft window; and punching a tray table. Law enforcement escorted him off the aircraft.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 20, 2021, Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Long Beach, California, for his alleged refusal to comply with the crew instructions to wear a face mask.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 5, 2021, Allegiant Air flight from Swanton, Ohio, to Clearwater, Florida, for interfering with flight crew members after refusing to wear his face mask and yelling at other passengers during a maintenance diversion in Kentucky. Airport police removed him from the aircraft in Kentucky.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 21, 2021, United Airlines flight from San Francisco, California, to Houston, Texas, for her alleged failure to comply with the face mask mandate.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a Jan. 29, 2021, United Airlines flight from Denver, Colorado, to Flagstaff, Arizona, for allegedly interfering with flight crew members after refusing to comply with the face mask mandate. Law enforcement met him at the gate.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a March 26, 2021, Endeavor Airlines flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Gainesville, Florida, for allegedly interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the mask mandate. Ground personnel escorted him off the flight after returning to the gate.
  • $8,000 against a passenger on a March 25, 2021, American Airlines flight from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Chicago, Illinois, for her alleged interference with flight crew members after refusal to comply with the face mask mandate.

Some airlines said passengers will be kicked off flights for refusing to follow the mask requirement.

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