According to data obtained by The Hill, TSA received 2,413 referrals of possible non-compliance incidents. It completed investigations into 1,793 incidents, and had issued more than 1,690 warning notices. Thirty-eight matters were meanwhile referred for civil penalties, with only two individuals agreeing to settle the fine.
Different experts put forward ideas as to why a larger percentage of people refused to pay penalties imposed by the TSA. MIT Sloan School of Management's Retsef Levi said: "One explanation could be that the people who already violated it to start with are people who feel very strongly to begin with and don't think the federal government could even mandate something like that. They do it partially as a protest, so it's not surprising they haven't paid the fine."
Carnegie Mellon University's Gretchen Chapman meanwhile said: "It's perhaps not surprising that the people who are most adamant about not wearing a mask are also the most adamant about not paying a fine and feeling their personal liberties are infringed upon." Chapman suggested other ways for TSA to collect fines if people stood by their decision not to pay.
First, she said airlines can put a disclaimer saying travelers' credit cards could be charged if they do not comply with mask mandates. A second suggestion she proposed involved charging passengers an extra $50, which could be refunded or deducted from the succeeding ticket purchase if they comply.
"They don't want to collect people's money, they want people to wear masks. But these two things are linked. There's no sense in having a rule that you have to do this and if you don't do it, you have to pay a fine, and no one actually pays the fine," Chapman said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) meanwhile said that it takes "significant time" to settle cases against unruly passengers. "Developing a case that we believe will hold up in court takes a considerable amount of work from our safety inspectors and attorneys, and they currently are working a record number of cases," an FAA spokesperson said. In spite of this, the agency said passengers who face fines have the right to due process.
The FAA received more than 3,600 reports of unruly behavior by passengers as of writing. Of this number, 2,666 reports involved passengers refusing to comply with federal mask mandates. FAA imposed fines depending on the severity of the offense – from $250 to as high as $52,500. In one instance, the agency fined a passenger $10,500 for refusing to mask up during a flight.
A July 6 press release said the passenger boarded an Allegiant Air flight last February 2021. Flight attendants reminded the passenger seven separate times to wear his face mask properly, but he moved it off of his nose afterward. The press release also noted that the passenger argued with a separate flight attendant [and] refused to provide his identification upon being told to fill out a passenger disturbance report.
As soon as the flight landed at its destination, the passenger walked up to the same flight attendant he earlier argued with as she was about to open the cabin door. He then touched her and asserted that she was being "aggressive" about the face mask policy. The FAA reminded that passengers who physically assault aircraft crew or threaten to do so face criminal fines and imprisonment.
Another passenger was penalized $21,500 – the highest among the list – for multiple violations. The passenger who took a Frontier Airlines flight in December 2020 refused to comply with instructions to wear a face mask and stop drinking alcohol that he brought into the flight. The FAA press release continued that the same passenger began fighting with the flight attendant and other passengers about the face mask policy.
These were not the only instances of airline passengers standing up to mask mandates. The FAA added that in April, a mask-less family aboard a Spirit Airlines flight argued with a flight attendant over the mandate. This, unfortunately, caused the removal of all passengers from the flight. The next month, a passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines flight punched a flight attendant over a disagreement about the mask policy. The flight attendant lost two teeth as a result.
MedicalTyranny.com has more articles about mask mandates on airplanes and other public transportation.