Airport Wait Times Not Increasing During Shutdown

Airports said they were seeing little to no impact on security lines Monday despite reports of a higher than normal number of TSA agents calling in sick as the partial federal government shutdown moves through its third week.

“Operations at ATL are still moving well, with little backlog,” wrote Atlanta airport spokeswoman Elise Durham in an email. The airport’s website showed that domestic (non-Precheck) TSA lines were 15 to 30 minutes during the mid-afternoon, with international lines less than 15 minutes in length.

“It’s minimal impact right now,” said a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark airports.

Wait times at LaGuardia were all less than 15 minutes during the mid-afternoon, according to the airport’s website. They were longer at the other major New York metro airports, however. At Newark, lines ranged from 10 minutes to nearly 25 minutes. Kennedy was reporting lines of between 5 and 28 minutes.

Because they are considered essential, TSA agents must work during the shutdown, even though they are among the federal employees who are slated to miss their paycheck on Friday.

In a statement reported by news agencies on Jan. 4, the TSA acknowledged that call-outs had increased over the course of the holiday period, but also said that security would not be compromised. In a Friday tweet, TSA assistant administrator for public affairs Michael Bilello said that in Dallas, 5.5% of workers called out that day compared with the normal percentage of 3.5%.

In an email Monday, TSA spokesman Jim Gregory declined to address call-out figures but said that over the weekend 90.1% of passengers nationwide waited less than 15 minutes.

“We are grateful to the more than 51,000 officers across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems,” Gregory said.

Bill Begley, spokesman for the Houston Airport System, said lines were normal over the weekend at Hobby and Bush Intercontinental airports.
Similarly, Denver airport spokeswoman Emily Williams said security lines have been normal for the past few weeks.

(Travel Weekly)

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