United States air travel concerns surface as government shutdown drags on


The organization has been trying to encourage government officials to end the shutdown, to the benefit of both shutdown-exempt workers who aren't receiving pay and furloughed members who are now out of a job.

"TSA only has what it has", said Christopher Bidwell, the vice president for security at the trade group Airports Council International-North America, "and although they have advised us that they are continuing to hire and train, we are very concerned about a prolonged government shutdown". Many workers have started calling in sick, while others have quit altogether.

More than 51,000 airport security screeners are required to work through the government shutdown -despite the agency's inability to provide them their regular pay - until it secures congressional funding from lawmakers in Washington.

Dobberstein said he talked to about 20 different airports this week and they were reporting normal wait times in the TSA lines.

The partial government shutdown has now reached its third week, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers aren't getting paid.

This includes the planned shutdown of Concourse G after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

But that could change after Friday, when most TSA employees are scheduled to be paid.

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Robinson said, despite the challenges, TSA officers will continue to work to keep travelers safe.

According to a spokesperson for the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, it is TSA employees and airline employees who have control over music at certain terminals of the airport.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association noted that the number controllers is now at a 30-year low, with 18 percent of controllers eligible to retire.

Airports also are bracing for flight delays.

At New York's LaGuardia Airport, fliers had to wait in almost hour-long security lines on Sunday. He added, "The screeners who do come to work will be forced to make up the slack, which erodes their effectiveness even more". That could led to longer lines at the airport, especially over the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and could lead to staffing problems at the detention center.

They can only be called back to work if there is a "reasonable likelihood" of a life-threatening safety issue.

Pittsburgh International Airport delivered lunches to TSA workers and air traffic controllers on Friday and plans to do it every Friday until the shutdown ends. "We're still advising people an hour or 90 minutes is probably best here, but in those larger airports at least give yourself a couple hours from when you check in to being able to get through the checkpoint".