As a traveler, it's often unbearably frustrating to deal with longer-than-normal wait times at airport security checkpoints, not to mention having to worry that security procedures may not be up to par. 

As the U.S. government shutdown continues, one of the major issues that could have an increasingly detrimental impact on travel safety and convenience is Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers calling out from work. The situation has the potential to leave passengers dealing with longer lines at TSA checkpoints and possibly less security restrictions should the problem ensue.

With officers required to work without paychecks, TSA callouts, according to a recent CNN article, have been the case at several airports, including New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Select media are even referring to this trend as the “blue flu.”

When contacted by Meetings Today, however, the TSA acknowledged it is seeing increased numbers of callouts, just as it does every year at this time, but at this point, it is not impacting operations.

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“To put that into some perspective, nationwide, TSA screened approximately 2.22 million passengers [Sunday, January 6, 2019], a historically busy day due to holiday travel, and 99.8 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes, while 90.1 percent of passengers waited less than 15 minutes,” said James O. Gregory, deputy assistant administrator with TSA Public Affairs.

“In TSA Pre✓® lanes, passengers on average waited less than five minutes,” he added.

O. Gregory also said he is grateful to the more than 51,000 TSA officers across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public at airports and elsewhere as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs with the U.S. Travel Association, said the ability to travel in the U.S. is a nonpartisan issue, and airports, visas and customs appeared largely unaffected by the partial federal shutdown prior to Monday, January 7, 2019.

“But if aspects of the shutdown are beginning to hinder the air travel process, political leaders need to understand that there will be immediate and measurable harm to the U.S. economy and jobs—and those concerns are non-partisan, as well,” Grella said. “The U.S. travel community is closely monitoring developments and is prepared to quantify the economic fallout of related travel disruptions.”

As the government shutdown continues, travelers should plan accordingly and arrive at the airport with plenty of extra time to deal with potential airport security delays. 

[Meetings Today Podcast: Destination DC’s Elliott Ferguson on the Government Shutdown]