Airline passengers who refuse to wear masks this year could face fines as high as $15,500, officials said on Monday. The fines are part of an increased effort to crack down on what federal authorities described as “unruly and dangerous behavior” in the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) made the announcement amid alcohol bans aimed at calming in-flight tensions and thousands of reports of out-of-control passengers. The FAA said as of Monday it had received 2,800 such reports since Jan. 1, with 3/4 of those reported refusing to comply with federal mask rules, it said.
The steepest proposed fine, $15,500, involved a passenger on a Feb. 5 JetBlue flight between Florida and Las Vegas who ignored at least 10 requests from flight attendants to wear a mask over his nose and his mouth. Other potential fines, from $10,500 to $7,500, were proposed for a passenger on another JetBlue flight who was alleged to have become “disruptive” after a flight attendant asked her to wear a mask, a passenger on an Alaska flight who was alleged to have smoked an e-cigarette in the restroom and refused to wear a mask in the cabin and a passenger on a Southwest flight who also refused to wear a mask.
In addition, passengers who assault, threaten or interfere with aircraft crew members could face fines of $35,000 on top of criminal charges.