Chairs Thompson and Watson Coleman Write TSA to Urge Improved Enforcement of Mask Mandates
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Chairwoman of the Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske seeking answers on how TSA plans to enforce enhanced civil penalties for travelers who do not comply with the Federal requirement to wear masks in transportation settings. Enforcement of these penalties is essential to hold offenders accountable, discourage unacceptable passenger behavior, and deter potential threats that put both the traveling public and the frontline TSA workforce at risk.
With incidents of unruly passengers at airport checkpoints and aboard planes at historic highs, we are concerned that TSA is not fully utilizing its authorities to deter this reckless and dangerous behavior. Between February 2, 2021, and September 13, 2021, TSA received 4,102 reports of mask-related incidents. During that time it assessed a total of only $2,350 in civil penalties against ten passengers and simply issued warnings to more than 2,000 passengers. In contrast, the Federal Aviation Administration has fielded complaints about more than 3,500 mask-related incidents since the start of the year and has issued over $1 million in proposed fines against disruptive passengers generally. TSA must likewise hold offenders accountable to reinforce passenger confidence in air travel safety.
We urge you to implement these enhanced penalties to curb the rising number of mask-related disruptive passenger incidents that threaten the safety and well-being of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), airport and airline workers, flight crews, and other travelers. We further urge you to widely publicize TSA’s efforts to give visibility to the steep consequences violators face as a warning to potential offenders.
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Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978
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