Amid reports of long security lines over the weekend, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it screened passengers expeditiously despite the ongoing government shutdown. The TSA called Sunday a "historically busy day due to holiday travel" but said 99.8 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes and 90.1 percent waited less than 15 minutes. Precheck lane waits averaged less than five minutes, according to the TSA. Last week, CNN reported that hundreds of TSA officers, whose pay is withheld while the shutdown persists, were calling in sick from "at least four major airports." Long lines were reported at LaGuardia Airport in New York City on Sunday. Forbes reported longer than usual lines in Seattle on Sunday and in Salt Lake City on Monday morning.
TSA assistant administrator for public affairs Michael Bilello addressed reports that high volumes of agents have called in sick due to the shutdown, calling the reports "grossly inaccurate." He tweeted: "Call-outs began over the holiday period and have increased but are causing minimal impact, given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process. Security effectiveness will not be compromised, and performance standards will not change." Bilello noted that LaGuardia did have longer wait times on Sunday but attributed them to "a high volume of passengers arriving at the airport." He also said 5.5 percent of the workforce called out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Friday. A normal rate is 3.5 percent.
U.S. Travel Association EVP of public affairs
Jonathan Grella said, "Airports, visas and Customs appeared largely
unaffected by the partial federal shutdown before Monday, 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."