How the government shutdown is impacting air travel

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

At Los Angeles International Airport, travelers told KTLA that security didn't seem to take any longer than usual.

So far, security line wait times haven't been affected, a DFW spokeswoman told KTVT-TV. "However, historically they have gotten paid once the furlough ends", said Thomas Kelly, spokesperson, in a statement for the Transportation Security Administration.

January is generally a slower month for air travel, but the agency has warned that wait times could increase.

The email was written Monday by Martin Elam, a deputy federal security director, to all TSA staff at the Palm Springs airport and mentioned "excessive unscheduled absences recently experienced at PSP", and threatened disciplinary action.

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

Since federal employees' furlough began December 22, the longest security line so far has taken one hour to get through, and at some points, it's taken 30 to 45 minutes, Cooper said.

Elam referred questions to the TSA press office.

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Union officials have stressed that the call-outs aren't part of an organized effort but they expect the numbers to rise if the shutdown lingers on. Some are seeking temporary employment - with more reliable pay dates - to make ends meet, union officials said.

"They know they don't have a paycheck coming in, they have to figure out how to get groceries on the table, how to keep a roof over their families head, so I'm sure some of them may have to make some tough decisions whether they even remain employed with the TSA", said David Mollett, National VP AFGE.

The impacts could compound the longer the shutdown lasts, union officials say. Typically, about 25 to 30 employees call out on an average shift. When employees are calling out across the board, the small teams at airports like Palm Springs feel it first.

"The loss of officers, while we're already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don't have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires", Thomas said in a statement on Monday. Pekoske also told officials on the call that security standards will not be lessened during the shutdown.

According to media reports from various cities, TSA which is responsible for operating security checkpoints at airports across the country was suffering from staffing shortages because of the government shutdown.

At noon Monday, a steady flow of passengers went through security screening at the jetport, with barely a line forming and the metal detectors and body scanners humming along without a hitch.

"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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