I’ve always thought that it would be fun to be the person at Disney World who is responsible for figuring out the logistics to keep the lines as short as possible. It seems very satisfying to knock off a minute or two before Mickey. This week, it looks like airports may need to borrow some of those people.
TSA Calling in Sick
I’m not the world’s biggest TSA fan, but I do feel bad for these guys. TSOs are viewed as essential personnel, so they have to work, even for free.* Thus, they’re being asked to show up for work. Sadly, the shutdown also seems to have led to a virus, since TSOs are calling out sick at a rate more than double the normal number. According to CNN, 7.6% called out on Monday, as compared to the normal 3.2%. DC did have a snowstorm, so that might have had some effect, but airports such as Miami, which tend to get a bit less snow, are also seeing sick-outs.
The TSA has public opinion on its side for once, but messed that up, too. PR has been a nightmare, with the agency claiming more than once that the illnesses aren’t because of the shutdown. Sure, total coincidence.
At The Airport
It’s safe to assume that long lines will last at least as long as the shutdown does. In fact, it may take months to get back to normal. Why? Because TSOs, who aren’t well-paid to begin with, are quitting. Apparently, the bills don’t stop just because the paychecks do. The TSA is still holding job fairs, but they won’t solve the problem short-term.
So we’re back to the same-old-same-old. Be at the airport early, know your lounges and be prepared to wait. Also, be aware of where and when you are. Most airports are still operating at close to normal levels, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
*They will eventually receive back pay and have been given a bonus of $500 for working through the holiday weekend. So I’ll assume that other unpaid federal employees will be entitled to the same?
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