Twelve hours ago the United States Government was shut down due to political gridlock on The Hill. As the nation’s elected representatives continue to play a game of chess using the citizens of the United States as pawns the business of airline travel must go on.
This morning I awoke to a flurry of emails from people enquiring about what to expect while traveling through airports as the government shutdown furloughs thousands of federal employees.
For those worried about decreased aviation security due to the government shut down, regardless of your feelings about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agencies’ front line employees have not been furloughed and are at their posts performing their duties. However there is one minor difference … they are not being paid for reporting to work as ordered.
Any fear that the government shut down and related furlough will impact the day to day operations of aviation security should be put to rest.
For those worried that the government shut down and furloughs will impact a law enforcement presence in airports, keep in mind that airport police are not federal employees and are not impacted by the government shut down.
While the TSA, Customs & Border Protection and other agencies responsible for the security and law enforcement within airports are doing their jobs, travelers should expect longer security lines for screening as well as longer times in Passport Control and Customs.
For those seeking to contact the agencies for non-emergecny issues, such as complaints, comments and guidance, expect to be on hold for a very long time to end up in a voice mail box to leave a message that may never get returned.
Hopefully things are back to normal quickly, employees start getting paid again and receive their back pay … but for now, air travel is abnormal as usual in the United States.