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  4. Statement by DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas Regarding Actions Taken to Combat Threats Posed by Unruly Passengers to Air Transportation Security

Statement by DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas Regarding Actions Taken to Combat Threats Posed by Unruly Passengers

Release Date: February 17, 2022

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to leverage the full range of its authorities in response to highly concerning incidents in which airline passengers have intentionally engaged in disruptive behavior. These incidents include verbal abuse, physical assault, and other threats to the safety and security of airline flight crews, Transportation Security Officers, and fellow passengers. 

“We do not tolerate behavior that puts the safety and security of airport and airline personnel, and the traveling public at risk,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “We will continue to use our authorities to hold accountable those passengers that intentionally violate our safety and security rules and regulations, including by issuing fines, referring individuals for criminal prosecution, revoking access to trusted traveler programs, and denying boarding when appropriate.”

DHS’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in partnership with the Department of Transportation, pursues a range of enforcement actions depending on the severity of the incident and based on a case-by-case determination of the appropriate response. These actions include:

  • issuing fines to individuals who violate applicable federal regulations or directives;
  • referring individuals who assault airport personnel, airline flight crews, or other passengers to the Department of Justice for potential criminal prosecution;
  • revoking or denying eligibility for TSA PreCheck® other trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry for individuals who violate applicable rules and regulations;
  • and, denying boarding to those who pose a threat to safety and security.

TSA works closely with airline partners and other federal agencies to share real-time reporting that informs these enforcement actions, while protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

In September 2021, TSA doubled the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on individuals who violate the federal mask mandate at airports, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation to protect public health and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The range of penalties was increased to $500-$1,000 for first offenders and $1,000-$3,000 for second offenders. Since September 2021, TSA has imposed almost $400,000 in civil penalties against more than 600 mask violators. Most violations related to the federal mask mandate have not resulted in physical assaults.

Last Updated: 02/17/2022
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