The Transporation Security Administration (TSA) says it has increased the maximum fine for passengers who are caught trying to take a gun in their hand luggage on a flight to $14,950.
The decision to raise the maximum penalty came after the agency reported a record-breaking year for the number of firearms found in passenger hand luggage at TSA security checkpoints.
As of December 16, the TSA says it has found 6,301 firearms in passenger hand luggage in violation of federal rules that prohibit guns in the airplane passenger cabin. More than 88 percent of firearms discovered by TSA officers were loaded.
The number of discovered guns is already up more than 5.5 percent on the 5,972 firearms detected in 2021. Although fewer passengers were traveling last year, the number of firearms discovered this year still vastly surpasses the number of guns found each year pre-pandemic.
In fact, in 2010, the TSA only discovered 1,123 firearms in passenger hand luggage – highlighting either just how widespread the problem has become or how much better the TSA has got at discovering firearms.
But while the maximum civil penalty has risen to nearly $15,000, the TSA admits that the average fine of a first offense could be as little as $3,000. A spokesperson said the agency “determines the penalty amount for a violation based on the circumstances in each case”.
TSA PreCheck holders will also have their status revoked for at least five years.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.