You Can Now Skip Mask Wearing On A Plane For Just $250

The TSA, which has a hard enough time finding guns and scissors, has a new distraction from its primary mission. They’re now the transportation mask police as a result of taking existing mask rules and making non-compliance a federal offense.

The Transportation Security Administration has announced its new fines for mask non-compliance: first offenses are $250, and fines range up to $1500 for repeated non-compliance. However TSA may seek higher or lower fines “[b]ased on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors.”

  • Customers who refuse to wear a mask may but are not required to be refused travel

  • Everyone has to approach airport security wearing a mask, but must take the mask off for identification purposes. TSA screeners are permitted to continue wearing masks, but passengers are not afforded this protection.

  • Refusing to wear a mask at the security checkpoint is considered more serious by the TSA than refusing to wear one elsewhere in the airport or on a plane. Trying to go through security without a mask can also mean additional penalties for “attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses.”

  • The TSA carves out mask exceptions, separate from airline exceptions.

    [T]hose 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. Visit for more information about face mask requirements.

TSA fines, by the way, are lower than FAA fines for unruly behavior which were in place before the federal mask rule.

So not only has the federal mask mandate meant new exceptions to mask-wearing at American Airlines and at United, but lower fines from a less competent agency too.

(HT: @melissayeagr)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Taking off a mask at a security checkpoint for at most several seconds is not going to endanger anyone except the paranoid.
    And I wonder if the Transportation Mask police will be checking restaurants for proper mask etiquette

  2. You’ll also be banned from the airline and will be kicked off the plane if you refuse to put one on during boarding. Unless you can give an example of being on a plane the entire flight, “skip mask wearing on a plane for $250” is just clickbait and I expect better from this site. (I do like reading the blog, I just don’t like when there’s an incorrect title solely there to be clickbait)

    “TSA screeners are permitted to continue wearing masks, but passengers are not afforded this protection.”

    The passenger lowers it for 3-5 seconds while they confirm you are who you are. There is a piece of plexiglass between you and the screener.

    Do you have a problem with nurses wearing a mask when administering a COVID test to a patient who has to take theirs off for the nasal swab?

  3. Gary, I hate the mask mandate as well. However, I understand it’s a requirement in order to travel. When I clicked on your article, I did so with the belief that there was a service or product I could purchase for $250 that would entitle me to not wear a mask during travel. (Honestly, I thought it could have been part of a new testing scheme.)

    Passengers who don’t wear a mask may be fined $250, and accrue additional fines and penalties. No fine grants passengers any entitlement to not wear a mask. Additionally, airlines may ban or otherwise penalize passengers for not wearing masks.

    I truly hope travel will go back to being better than what used to be considered normal. For now, we all just have to put up with masks if we want to travel. On a positive note, I’ve been able to have more flights on 777 or 787 within the past year than on little tin cans on domestic routes! 😀 Tho recently, a lot of my future flights have been switched to some version of the 737. While domestic First (what for me is really premium economy) isn’t what it used to be, the additional space is always appreciated.

  4. But do planes have contact tracing? Say that the person sitting next to your family refuses to wear a mask and is fined $250. A week later your family gets a contact tracing notice that they were on the flight and tested positive, and grandma who sat next to them gets sick. Then grandma dies of covid. Could you perhaps top off their $250 fine with a $1,000,000 civil suit? I think civil liability is really where the risk is for people ignoring these rules more so than fines or criminal enforcement.

  5. Shoot, I was hoping this was an option. I want to reschedule a trip to Athens for August or September. But the masks often make me overheat and need my inhaler more often. I can’t imagine they’ll still be requiring masks in September but if so, it’ll be another year without my trip to Athens.

  6. Setting another dangerous precedent for abuse of power. “Short term goals have long term consequences.”

  7. Completely misleading – you can still be kicked of the plane and banned from flying the airline for violating airline rules (not related to TSA)

  8. In case anyone missed it, we wear masks to first protect others around us and secondly to protect ourselves — which is why the statement is ridiculous gibberish:

    “Everyone has to approach airport security wearing a mask, but must take the mask off for identification purposes. TSA screeners are permitted to continue wearing masks, but passengers are not afforded this protection.”

    TSA agents obviously don’t need to remove their masks — no one is confirming their identity — and keeping their masks on protects the nearby passengers from any potentially infected TSA agents. The TSA agents still is are higher risk of being infected by the briefly unmasked passengers in case anyone is actually paying attention.

    Also, a first offense fine of $250 for not wearing a mask is better than no fine for not wearing a mask.

    Gary’s Trumpian views are pretty disturbing to me.


  9. You are extremely disturbing –
    Try this on the plane and be banned. How do I know? That’s my job.
    You are becoming irrelevant.

  10. This mask-removing requirement by the TSA just shows how ridiculous the government is and how hooked it is to the stupid passenger ID checks.

    Removing masks and putting them back on increases the risk of getting infected and infecting others and it also increases the costs of mask-wearing in other ways as masks may break and the removal and reapplication of the same mask can leave the mask wearer with a poorer fitting mask.

    The TSA’s mask removal policy as part of the screening checkpoint is a danger to Americans in a way that scrapping ID checks isn’t.

  11. Please, for the love of good journalism, UPDATE YOUR TITLE. Something like “ridiculous low fine” is OK OK, but the suggestive, click-bait title is beyond the pale.

    Look, in CA, when you get your first DUI, the fine is around $390. Does it mean that you can drink-n-drive for $390? No! This excludes the cost of court, towing (if you don’t have a sober driver to drive you home), increase in insurance, etc. And that’s for *first* DUI. Try a second time, and you may lose your license.

    Same thing here. Just because TSA fines you “only” $250 for first offense doesn’t mean that’s your only cost for every offence. TSA fine is only part of the cost. You also get in trouble with FAA, with the airlines, and who knows what else. And this is first offense. Repeated offense may get you banned from the airlines or from flying altogether (although, to be fair, if you have an adorable child, you may want to milk to that for money online). Oh, and this is 1 way. If you do this on a round trip, that’s *minimum* $500. Did you know that you can fly transcontinental with that much?

    So the initial fine by TSA may be low, but that’s just the starting point. Suggesting that it’s the entire cost of mask refusal is misleading.

    Side note: 2 months ago, the fine from TSA was $0. Why didn’t you complain then?

  12. For the safety and health of the traveling public and the rest of the public, the TSA should get out of the business of ID checking and not get into the business of mask enforcement and instead focus itself just on interdiction of prohibited weapons, explosives and incendiaries. The TSA needs to focus and improve itself on interdiction of prohibited items instead of being distracted by the ID-checking junk and a mask enforcement that should be done by law enforcement proper and the airlines instead of by the cast of characters at the TSA in pretend law enforcement style uniforms.

  13. Again, I prefer the science 11-month younger Dr. Fauci recently believed in. Before the Left and the PC narrative to help get Trump out of office convinced him convinced him to change his mind and apparently confess he didn’t know anything about how viruses worked this time last year. lol…

    “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” Fauci told CBSNews’ 60 Minutes in a March 8 interview with chief medical correspondent for CBS News Dr. Jon LaPook.
    “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” said Fauci at that time.

  14. $250 is a lot of money, it could buy strippers and drugs at a destination. I’d rather mask up and turn down (for what?!) in the red light district.

  15. What a joke of a post.

    You should write another dumb post on how I can park my rental car anywhere for only $150? That’s the typical fine for not obeying parking laws in most cities, and therefore “just as accurate” as this idiotic one.

    You need to see someone who can counsel you.

  16. @Brady

    Medicine and knowledge advances. We no longer treat ailments with leeches. Or drill holes in people’s brains to “cure” them. Get used to it.

  17. The last thing TSA screeners want to do is enforce mask thing. Thank your President for this nonsense.

  18. The TSA screeners willfully attempt to enforce plenty of nonsense. Enforcing a sensible mandate for masks is better than the nonsense of enforcing the ID checks and requiring passengers to unmask for the ridiculous “ID is security” passenger screening garbage.

  19. @gary I agree, this is a misleading and incorrect title. We know you are angry but don’t fool your readers into thinking they can skip mask if they pay $250.

  20. I’m shocked by the irresponsibility of the title of this article. The implication is really inappropriate and, frankly, disgusting. Fundamentally, this provides people with a rationale for not wearing masks on airplanes. Why open that door? This is SO WRONG. Shame on Gary Leff and Viewfromthewing. A public apology from both is the least that can be done along with a full correction.

  21. Yea, too much clickbait, Gary. I’m removing you from my blogroll now. This one’s unproductive and irresponsible.

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