Air travelers start to feel effects of US government shutdown

A Transportation Security Agency agent checks the identification of travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington Va.. Jan. 7 2019

Donald Trump's weeks-long government shut down has led to a unsafe situation at a California airport as Transit Security Administration officials continue to call out sick en masse due to lack of payment.

On Friday, in response to CNN's original report, TSA spokesman Michael Bilello acknowledged that "callouts began over the Holiday period and have increased", and that the agency was "closely monitoring the situation".

"Management is appreciative and sensitive to the burden the ongoing government shutdown is placing on each one of you", Elam wrote. One federal official dubbed it a "blue flu", nodding to the blue shirts worn by TSA officers, while union officials say officers can't afford to work unpaid.

The union for federal employees is rallying on Thursday, asking people to ask Congress end the shut down.

Chicago aviation department spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said wait times at the city's airports were less than 15 minutes on Monday and over the weekend, which is normal.

Thousands of federal employees in South Florida are dealing with the effects of the partial government shutdown and figuring out how to make ends meet. "You are an essential employee and you are required to report for work to carry out essential duties".

CNN reported Tuesday that according to internal emails from the Palm Springs airport in Southern California, the mass call-outs have "adversely impacted security operations".

Your unauthorized unscheduled absence will be coded by payroll as absent without leave (AWOL).

Elam referred questions to the TSA press office. Union officials did not respond to requests for comment.

"Morale is low. We live paycheck to paycheck", Hubert says.

Typically, the contractors are brought in during summer and the holiday travel season, but Cooper said Port commissioners will soon decide whether to extend the contract through February or March in case of an extended shutdown. That can cause anxiety, he said, but it doesn't mean the line isn't moving. New recruits can not be hired or trained without funding.

"These lines are already bad enough so I can't imagine this being any good", said frequent traveler Adam Sanders.

The call included TSA Administrator David Pekoske and top-ranking field officials, according to one of the sources, who listened to the call. Contract employees also work at other "pinch points throughout the airport, such as the garage, cellphone lot, bag claim and information booths", he said. He said TSA officials don't routinely inform the airport about staffing levels but would notify airport officials if any problems were interrupting operations.

"Federal Employees impacted by the shutdown are not guaranteed to be paid for time that they work or are furloughed during the shutdown", she said.

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