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TSA 'call outs' could increase at airports if shutdown continues

Posted at 4:57 PM, Jan 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 16:50:44-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- Fears of long lines and slowdowns at airports grow as Transportation Security Administration employee 'call outs' increase. The TSA said the impact has been minimal, but since there's no end in sight to he partial government shutdown, there are concerns passengers could see delays.

The Palm Beach International Airport spokesperson said operations are normal at the airport as mission-essential employees like TSA agents, air traffic controllers, etc. continue to report to work.

More than 51,000 TSA employees are still going to work every day, even though they are aware they may not get paid at the end of the week.

"They were very professional about it. They didn't mention it. No one mentioned it. I think everybody was courteous," said Anthony Cataldo who flew from New York's La Guardia Airport to PBI.

Cataldo anticipated a slower screening process after hearing about the increase in TSA agents calling out of work. "I thought they were just going to have one or two [screening lanes] closed, but to my surprise it was all opened," said Cataldo.

An automated email from the regional TSA spokesperson Monday said she was not permitted to respond to emails or calls until after the "funding hiatus." A national TSA spokesperson provided information also posted to the TSA's twitter account saying, on Sunday, which was a historically busy day due to holiday travel, 99.8 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes and 90 percent waited less than 15 minutes.

The wait for TSA Pre check lines was less than 5 minutes. =

"I had TSA pre-check and they got us in line and they just kept us moving, moving, moving," said Gail Sachs, also flying into PBI from New York. "And they [TSA agents] have to take up the gap that's created by their fellow colleagues, it's very hard for everyone."

Friday is around the corner and the American Federal Government Employees union VP said he would not be surprised if more employees call out or even resign.

"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.