Concerns Mount Over Impact of Government Shutdown on Travel

TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

On Thursday, air traffic controllers missed their first paycheck since the shutdown began.

Bilello said on Twitter that the TSA is working with "stakeholders and industry partners to explore efforts to consolidate officers and operations".

Longer lines will alienate travelers and could push more airports to replace government employees with privately contracted screening agents.

Airport security officers, along with air traffic controllers and employees at more than a dozen US agencies and departments, have been caught in a political battle between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over whether to fund a border wall with Mexico.

"They are truly stuck in the middle and they have to put up with the flyers that are maybe impatient and not getting paid for that, don't know if I'd put up with it", said Lisa Peck.

Chin said that if the shutdown continues and additional screeners don't show up for work, the airport could be forced to close a security checkpoint at terminals that have multiple entry points, such as Concourse J or Concourse D. "If the staffing shortage gets worse, we will see reduced capacity in the national airspace system, meaning more flight delays", he said.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association named Trump and several FAA officials as defendants and claimed the administration is "depriving (air traffic controllers) of their hard-earned compensation without the "requisite due process". Their work is not getting done, he said.

About 3,300 aviation safety inspectors under the FAA are not working - since 2013, they have not been considered essential employees who must stay on the job during government shutdowns.

In similar shutdowns Congress and the White House have always agreed to pay back wages to government employees, though some contractors haven't been paid in arrears. The Senate already passed the measure, which now goes to Trump for his signature.

As the shutdown is soon to drag into its fourth week, there is no sign of compromise.

With more federal security screeners refusing to work without pay, Miami International Airport plans to cut off access to one of its terminals over the weekend in order to send TSA workers to busier checkpoints, a spokesman said Thursday night. "We thank TSA officers for their resilience and diligence, and we thank industry and the public for their continued acts of kindness and support".

Screeners start around $24,000 a year, and most earn between $26,000 and $35,000, according to TSA. TSA said only about 220,000 travelers waited at least 15 minutes at checkpoints, while 0.2 percent - fewer than 5,000 - waited at least 30 minutes.

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