President Joe Biden tore into unruly passengers who have defied federal mask mandates during air travel – following a string of reports of confrontations between passengers and flight attendants.
‘Show some respect!’ he told rule-breakers in a speech from the White House.
Biden delivered the admonishment as part of a speech where he repeatedly went after unvaccinated Americans who ‘overcrowd our hospitals’ and elected officials who ‘undermine’ public health guidelines.
The tough tone comes as the president confronts a surge in infections and coronavirus deaths, fueled by roughly one quarter of the country that has declined to take vaccines despite the US having a plentiful supply of free doses.
‘Show some respect,’ President Joe Biden told air passengers as he announced a doubling of fines for passengers who refuse to comply with federal mask mandates
‘Tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration, TSA, will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask. If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,’ he intoned.
‘And by the way, show some respect. Anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong, it’s ugly,’ he added.
The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders. The amounts escalate to $1000-$3000 for second offenders, the Department of Homeland Security announced.
‘Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,’ said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement announcing the stepped up fines.
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‘Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,’ said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
An off-duty Delta Air Lines flight attendant apparently commandeered the intercom on an Atlanta-bound flight Friday night, leading to a scuffle that forced the plane to land in Oklahoma City, an airline spokesman said
‘We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety,’ he added.
Said TSA Administrator David Pekoske: ‘We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19. By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.’
The TSA has previously extended the mask mandate until January 18.
The fines come as the administration is imposing new vaccine mandates and seeks to boost masking as the average daily infections hit 150,000 – after infections were down below 15,000 around July Fourth.
There have been a series of high-profile clashes between passengers and flight attendants over masking and other regulations.
In one incident last month, an unruly Frontier Airlines passenger was duct-taped to his seat after allegedly touching two female flight attendants and allegedly punching a male one. He was charged with battery. He was captured on video that went viral shouting during the flight, with his mask below his chin.
Maxwell Wilkinson Berry of Ohio was charged him with three counts of misdemeanor battery after the Philadelphia to Miami flight.
In July, a woman flying on American Airline was restrained with flex cuffs and tape after she allegedly tried to open an aircraft door and ‘physically assaulted, bit and caused injury to a flight attendant,’ according to the airline.
The FAA announced last month it has slapped more than $1 million in fines on ‘unruly’ passengers.