With the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continuing to drag on, many airports are now being severely impacted.
What does this mean? Well, if you’re planning on flying anywhere, you should prepare yourself for longer lines and increased delays at the airport.
Airport Security Issues Explained
Though the airlines themselves are privately owned, Transportation Security Administration agents are all government employees. While they are expected to work regardless of a shutdown, they currently are not receiving their paychecks.
CNN is now reporting that hundreds of agents have been calling in sick thanks to the shutdown. While TSA press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton has refuted the “sick-out” on Twitter, there’s no denying the security-related delays.
In a statement released January 15, TSA unsurprisingly admitted that they are experiencing a high rate of call outs. In fact, it’s more than double the average number of unscheduled absences.
At least two airports, Miami and Houston International have gone so far as to shut down some of their TSA checkpoints.
Give Yourself Extra Time
The delays vary from one airport to the next, however, experts are suggesting travelers arrive an hour earlier than usual. (TSA normally recommends two hours for domestic flights and three for international.)
As larger airports have been the most significantly impacted, you should take your departure city into consideration as well.
Some are also saying it is unwise to trust the wait times published online.
Ensure You’re Following the Rules
When packing your carry-ons, make sure you’re abiding by TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rules. Fluids must be kept under 3.4 ounces and stored in a quart-sized zip-top bag.
Being able to quickly access any and all electronic devices can also help you speed through security.
Jackets, scarves, and sweaters will likely need to be removed and placed into a tray. (Depending on your age, shoes may also need to be taken off as well.) Additionally, avoid wearing jewelry, belts, or accessories with metal on them, as you may have to remove them also.
TSA continues to assure us that security remains uncompromised by the shutdown. However, it’s still important to stay alert when traveling. With some security departments being short-staffed, many airport employees are busier than usual.