Buttigieg urges travelers to respect mask mandates on planes

May 30, 2021, 8:26 AM | Updated: May 31, 2021, 9:08 pm
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta Bel...

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

(Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday urged travelers to respect flight attendants and other crew members who enforce federal mask mandates on planes, pledging strict federal enforcement against such abuse at a time of increasingly unruly behavior by passengers.

“The flight crews and other workers you encounter, they’re doing their job,” he said. “They’re following regulations and they’re there to keep you safe. It is absolutely unacceptable to ever mistreat a transportation worker.

“And of course, there’s very serious fines and enforcement around that,” Buttigieg added.

Buttigieg said the federal mask mandate, which remains in effect on planes, buses and trains until Sept. 13, continues to be driven by public health considerations. He stressed that travelers should abide by it as both a matter of safety and respect to transportation workers.

“Part of it has to do with the unique conditions of the physical space,” Buttigieg said, explaining the extra COVID-19 precautions for crowded spaces. “Part of it has to do with the conditions of it being a workplace, and folks who really don’t have a choice about being there, the way it is in some other cases.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say that fully vaccinated people can go without face coverings inside and outside various public areas.

“These rules and regulations and these bodies of guidance always evolve with the science,” Buttigieg said.

His admonition comes after the Federal Aviation Administration announced last week it was proposing civil penalties as high as $15,000 against five passengers for violations that included allegedly assaulting and yelling at flight attendants.

Southwest Airlines last week also banned a woman accused of punching a flight attendant shortly after a plane from Sacramento, California, landed in San Diego on May 23. The airline said the passenger ignored instructions from the flight attendant before assaulting her. San Diego Harbor Police arrested Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, and charged her with felony battery.

Over the weekend, both Southwest and American Airlines said they would hold off on resuming alcoholic beverage services because of recent incidents of passenger disruption.

The FAA says reports of unruly passenger behavior has been on the rise this year as more travelers return to the skies. According to the agency, from Jan. 1 through May 24, there were roughly 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of people refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.

Buttigieg spoke on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hosts a press conference following a tour of East Point, Ga., Friday, May 21, 2021. Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Rep Nikema Williams and MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker joined the tour. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              FILE - In this April 20, 2021 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport  in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Southwest Airlines is pushing back plans to resume selling alcohol on flights after a recent increase in unruly passengers. The airline planned to start selling booze on some flights next month. But on Friday, May 28, the airline said it was delaying the move.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
            
              FILE - In this Tuesday, March 9, 2021, file photo, an airline arrives at Salt Lake City International Airport, in Salt Lake City. Federal officials are going after more airline passengers accused of disrupting flights. On Monday, May 17,  2021, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it will seek fines totaling more than $100,000 against four passengers on flights in the last several months. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

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Buttigieg urges travelers to respect mask mandates on planes