The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it will be doubling its fines for passengers who refuse to wear a mask.

Starting Friday, the fine for refusing to wear a mask in flights, in airports, and on trains, buses and other forms of public transportation will increase to a range of $500 to $1,000 for first offenders, while penalties for a second offense will range from $1,000 to $3,000, The Washington Post reported.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the TSA would double fines for travelers who refuse to wear a mask and, if someone breaks the rules, "be prepared to pay." Biden also said that passengers should "show some respect."

Penalties imposed by the TSA are separate from those implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for passengers who act out on flights.

TSA officials have yet to comment on how many people have been fined so far. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said that the agency seeks to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence by doubling the range of penalties.

Pekoske added that they appreciate the majority of travelers who voluntarily follow the mask mandate. The TSA is in charge of enforcing the mask mandate in transportation setting.

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Mask Mandate During Travel

Airline crews have also been tasked with enforcing the federal mask policy on planes. The staff has repeatedly complained about the rise in unruly passenger behavior, according to a CNBC report.

Last month, the FAA said it has already received nearly 4,200 reports of unruly passengers since the start of the year, with more than 3,000 of these refusing to wear a mask. The FAA also reported that it has suggested more than $1 million in penalties this year alone.

Airline staff has also reported situations wherein visibly drunk passengers verbally abused them, shoved them, and kicked seats.

The FAA hoped its zero-tolerance policy for in-flight disruptions would be enough to discourage potential offenders. The zero-tolerance policy could lead to fines of as much as $52,500 and up to 20 years in prison.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson also urged airport police to detain more passengers for being unruly or violent. He said many passengers were interviewed by local police and then released without criminal charges of any kind.

Joe Biden's Vaccine Mandate

Joe Biden said Thursday that the most recent vaccine mandate would affect around 100 million Americans. The new measures will include all federal workers and contractors and a requirement that large companies must impose vaccination or regular testing for employees, CBS News reported.

Joe Biden also announced that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.

The president's announcements had gained criticism, with the Republican National Committee saying that they plan to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that there would be limited disability and religious exceptions to the federal employees' vaccine requirement.

The American Foundation of Government Employees said that these changes should be negotiated with their bargaining units. AFGE president Everett Kelley noted that the union expects to bargain over the policy before its implementation.

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Written by: Mary Webber

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