The fine for not wearing a mask in public transportation the first time is just $250. But almost no one is cited for this, I see passengers walking around airports all the time maskless and nobody stops them. Airlines enforce masking on the aircraft, but airports don’t enforce it in the terminal most of the time.
Once someone is cited, though, that doesn’t mean anyone winds up paying a fine. In fact only two people have actually agreed to do so.
There are big headlines about unruly passenger fines. Those are different, but even those are rarely paid as-announced, they are proposed fines subject to judicial review. For simple mask violations:
- 2,413 mask non-compliance incidents have been reported to TSA
- TSA then has to investigate the complaint – they’ve completed 1793 investigations.
- Most investigations result in a warning, not a fine – the TSA has issued 1,690 warnings.
- Just 38 cases have been referred for penalties.
- And only two people have agreed to pay the fines, the others have challenged the fines.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which proposes fines against passengers for behavior on aircrafts, said that it takes “significant time” to settle cases against unruly passengers but that passengers who face fines have the right to due process.
“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.
We’ll see of course whether eventually some of the other cases referred for penalties wind up with monies actually paid. They might settle to avoid the costly expense of litigation, and in some cases there may be ‘insufficient evidence’, a witness may no longer be available, or memories could fade.
Ultimately the regulation serves as a request, that most people follow, albeit with low quality masks that provide them little protection though which may serve as some degree of source control if they themselves are infected.