Staffing Shortages Causing Delays at Major Airports

An employee with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checks the documents of a traveler at Reagan National Airport in Washington

Major airports were experiencing delays Friday as the FAA reported staffing shortages at two regional air traffic control centers in Washington and Florida. As the longest U.S. government shutdown on record continues for over a month now, air travel is impacted as both the FAA and TSA are experiencing increased staffing issues.

These staffing shortages and delays have been as a direct result of the government shutdown. Both agencies have reported an increase in employee sickouts and “no-shows” with many workers citing financial limitations as preventing them from working.

The FAA ordered a ground stop Friday at LaGuardia Airport causing delays at other major airports. Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told CNN Friday, “We predicted that you cannot continue to operate a system this complex, for this long without the support structure of the people that are furloughed.”

Since Sunday, staffing issues and extended wait times have been acknowledged and reported at John F. Kennedy International Airport; LaGuardia Airport; Baltimore-Washington International Airport; George Bush Intercontinental Airport; Newark Liberty International Airport; Philadelphia International Airport; Miami International ​Airport; Orlando International Airport; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Tampa International Airport.

On Friday, the longest wait times were reported at LaGuardia Airport at nearly an hour and a half. Chicago O’Hare International Airport has been maintaining wait times at under 20 minutes. For updates on wait times at the busiest international airports, travelers can check the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.  Additionally, checking airport websites and social media feeds for updates on wait times can help travelers mitigate unforeseen circumstances while traveling during this shutdown.

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