Did you know that the TSA imposes fines against travelers without masks? In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) looks to curb the spread of the coronavirus by imposing fines against travelers for not wearing a mask while in the public transit domain. In addition to denying entry, boarding, or continued transport to a traveler, the TSA may seek to fine a mask-less traveler anywhere from $250.00 for a first-time offense, up to $1,500 for repeat offenses. In some instances, the TSA may even seek a fine in excess of $1,500 depending upon aggravating factors.

Travelers should expect to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems (to include airports and while traveling as a passenger on an aircraft) between February 2, 2021, and May 11, 2021. According to the TSA, “the federal face mask requirement extends to the nation’s domestic network of airports; passengers and crewmembers flying aboard airplanes operated by domestic and foreign air carriers with inbound flights to U.S. ports of entry… Passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.” https://www.tsa.gov/news/press/releases/2021/01/31/tsa-implement-executive-order-regarding-face-masks-airport-security

While this latest mask requirement is in response to President Biden’s January 21, 2021, Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, there are certain exemptions that may apply based upon age, disability, and security. For example, travelers under the age of two (2), those with a disability who cannot wear a mask as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or those for whom a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duties are exempt from wearing a mask. Additionally, there may be times while at the airport where TSA will ask the traveler to momentarily remove a mask to confirm the traveler’s identity.

Masks must conform to applicable guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to include covering the nose and mouth while fitting snugly against the sides without gaps. Acceptable masks may be either commercially produced or homemade; however, the masks should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalations valves, or punctures. To that end, face shields and/or goggles are not acceptable substitutes for the use of a proper mask (although a traveler can still wear them in addition to wearing a mask).

If you have received a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty from the TSA because of an alleged violation of the TSA’s new mask policy, call the attorneys at The Ison Law Firm at 855-FAA-1215 to discuss your legal rights and options.