Some TSA officers calling in sick

Geneva Stokes
January 7, 2019

Hundreds of frustrated travelers were stuck on snaking lines inside the Delta Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City Sunday afternoon, as a handful of airport employees tried to keep calm amid increased callouts by TSA agents during the government shutdown.

DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton went on to deny the report. The spokesperson said 99.8% of 2.2 million passengers screened on January 3 waited less than 30 minutes. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps.

With many travelers expecting delays due to the shutdown, TSA did add a disclaimer that wait times will be affected depending on the number of call outs.

"Fifty to 100 people are calling out at any particular airport", said Hydrick Thomas, president of the TSA union under the American Federation of Government Employees.

CNN reported Friday that hundreds of TSA screeners at major USA airports have been calling out sick as an alternative to working without pay due to the partial government shutdown.

So far, he said, his colleagues are only calling out sick "here and there". "They are not coming to work because they don't have the money to get to work".

"Call-outs have increased, but they're really having minimal impact", said TSA spokesman Jim Gregory.

CNN reported a 200-300 percent increase in agents calling out sick at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and also claimed that throughout the first week of January, as many as 170 agents called out at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport each day.

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That means that if the shutdown continues, it's bound to get worse.

The president's insistence on funding for a proposed border wall between the US and Mexico led to the latest government shutdown, which began December 22.

Numerous employees are forced to call out because they can no longer afford childcare without a paycheck, or need to use the time they would be working for the TSA to earn money they can use to pay rent or other living expenses. Known as positive passenger bag match, it presumes that if a passenger checks in and boards the flight, their checked luggage is safe, but some security experts are doubtful it is effective.

For now, Donald Trump and congressional leaders have met but have yet to find a resolution that will end the shutdown. To date, however, screening wait times remain well within TSA standards. @spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won't stop us from reporting.

The big question is "How are they filling the void?" said one of the veteran TSA officials, voicing concern about the impact on security.

About 51,000 TSA employees who screen passengers are considered essential.

If you have a flight to the United States coming up, you might want to give yourself a little extra time at the airport.

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