The government shutdown began on Dec. 22 and the actual impact on air travel and airport security throughout the U.S. varies from source to source. Naturally, everyone has a different perspective on what’s actually happening.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is impacted by the government shutdown since it is a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which is not currently being funded. Therefore the TSA website has not been updated since Dec. 21, application approvals for TSA Pre Check may be delayed and, what you’ve probably seen most in the news, TSA employees are currently working without pay. The last point is causing some panic amongst travelers, but according to tweets from Michael Bilello, TSA’s assistant administrator of public affairs, this has had minimal impact on travelers’ airport experiences as well as flight safety.
TSA data shows approximately a 1 percentage point uptick in call-out rates compared to this time last year. This statistic does not comport with the unofficial and anecdotal narrative others have been providing to media outlets.— Michael Bilello (@TSA_Bilello) January 9, 2019
He also shared some recent statistics:
Nationwide, @TSA screened 1.74 million passengers yesterday (Jan. 9). 99.9 percent of passengers waited less than 30 min; 94.8 percent of passengers less than 15 min. In TSA Pre✓® lanes, passengers on average waited less than five min. Security standards remain uncompromised.— Michael Bilello (@TSA_Bilello) January 10, 2019
But if the shutdown continues for even a few more weeks, TSA employees could start calling in sick or quitting at a higher rate, potentially impacting TSA staffing. Eben Peck, ASTA’s executive vice president of advocacy, recently told Travel Weekly that “if airport security screening operations are really impacted, that could cause people to start canceling trips.”
To help keep spirits up during this period of unknown, travelers are encouraging others to thanks TSA agents for their service during the shutdown.
If you’re traveling through an airport please take a brief moment to thank the TSA staff for their work. Feds are furloughed and the TSA agent in front of you is working without a paycheck. #shutdown #TSA— Dave (@DavidESnipes) January 4, 2019
On January 10, the TSA employees at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT were treated to lunch by Southwest Airlines employees, to show their support for their fellow airport workers during this potentially tough time.
Do you have an experience with TSA during the government shutdown that you want to share? Tell us in the comments below.