Expect Tougher Air Travel as Government Shutdown Drags On: TSA Union Rep

An employee with the Transportation Security Administration checks the documents of a traveler at Reagan National Airport in Washington U.S

As the government shutdown continues to stretch on, Pittsburgh International Airport has chose to provide an act of kindness to the TSA agents working without pay right now.

On Thursday, Miami International Airport announced it will close a terminal early for three days due to an increase in TSA screeners not reporting for work, CNN reported.

But 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.

"Our inspectors are the oversight, they are the regulatory side of the house for the FAA", said Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union.

The terminal will be open for morning flights each day and arrivals will continue to land in the terminal in the afternoon. It will then close again at 1 p.m., Chin said.

"No employee can be expected to work indefinitely without pay", Thompson said.

Planes will still be able to drop off passengers at Terminal G throughout the day.

Bilello said TSA is still hiring officers and working on contingency plans in case the shutdown lasts beyond Friday, when officers would miss their first paycheck since the shutdown began on December 22.

About 51,000 TSA agents are part of the 800,000 government employees who have either been furloughed or required to work without pay, and will miss this week's Friday paycheck.

Air traffic controllers, pilots and other key cogs of the nation's aviation sector on Thursday demanded an end to the partial government shutdown, rallying outside the Capitol to highlight what they say is a growing danger from not reaching a resolution. Congressional Democrats aren't budging on their opposition to the wall.

The air traffic controllers are also organizing a leafleting effort appealing directly to passengers at airports across the country, including in Dallas Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a union official said. Departing Terminal G flights will be diverted to other terminals this weekend. Chin said G was chosen because it's the slowest concourse at MIA.

Bilello said there had been no spike in employees quitting and that on Tuesday, 5 percent of officers took unscheduled leave, up just slightly from 3.9 percent the same day a year ago.

Friday marks the first-day screeners will miss a paycheck, and airport spokesman Greg Chin said there's a concern there won't be enough workers to handle all 11 checkpoints during normal hours over the weekend.

Much of the media attention has focused on potential snarls at airport checkpoints, but the shutdown's impact on travel could manifest itself in numerous ways.

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