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TSA staff shortage spreads nationwide

Posted at 2:28 PM, Jan 14, 2019

DENVER – If you have plans to travel, you may be in for a longer waits and fewer arrivals and departures at the Denver International Airport.

Emily Williams, a spokesperson for DIA, says at this point in time the airport is running regularly. Across the nation, TSA workers have been no-shows Sunday and again today. The TSA reports a national absence rate of 7.6 percent, compared to 3.2 percent a year ago.

Williams says she has no access to the TSA staffing numbers at DIA, so it remains unknown whether the airport has been directly affected by the shutdown or not. The majority of TSA staff at DIA continue to show up for work, even without pay.

As the longest government shutdown in history continues, today marks the first business day after federal workers nationwide missed their paychecks on Friday, including 15,000 workers in Colorado.

Due to the shutdown,  long lines and TSA workers calling in made for an extra long wait for passengers at the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta. TSA spokesman Jim Gregory would not provide absentee numbers for Atlanta or other airports, saying that would compromise security by exposing possible vulnerabilities.

“Screeners will not do anything to compromise or change their security procedures,” Gregory said.

TSA Checkpoint
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A statement from TSA attributed the long waits in Atlanta to “anticipated high volume.” Monday’s long wait times come just three weeks before Atlanta will host one of the world’s largest sporting events, Super Bowl 53, on February 3rd. The big game is expected to bring loads of travelers to the city.

Miami International Airport closed one of its concourses for part of the weekend, sending about a dozen afternoon and evening flights each day to other concourses so that TSA workers could adequately staff the other checkpoints.

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport closed one terminal Sunday afternoon and it remained shut Monday morning, according to an airport spokesman.

To avoid some of the travel hassle for any airport, you can download the MyTSA app to see wait times and flight delays. You should plan accordingly and try to arrive early to ensure you make your flight and possibly avoid the long lines.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)