Q&A: How will the partial U.S. government shutdown affect business travel?

Longer security lines and more flight delays are expected at U.S. airports.

A partial shutdown of the United States government, including the Transportation Security Administration, may affect business travel to and from U.S airports. Here’s what travelers need to know.

How is the partial U.S. government shutdown affecting air travel to and from the United States, and what should travelers do about it?

The partial government shutdown is likely to increase waiting times at federally staffed airport touchpoints, including security lines, customs lines and runways, the latter of which could increase airline takeoff and landing times. Travelers should allow themselves extra time to check in at airports and get through security lines. They should also try to avoid connecting flights with short layovers.

How is the U.S. staffing federal security and customs posts during the partial government shutdown?

As part of their employment contracts, federal workers identified as “essential” must continue to work during the government shutdown. These essential workers include roughly 10,000 air traffic controllers with the Federal Aviation Administration, 51,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, and 55,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel.

Is the TSA fully staffed during the partial government shutdown?

In a Twitter statement, TSA officials (@TSA) advised that a larger number of employees than usual have called in sick during the shutdown, resulting in varying wait times in airport security lines. Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change during the shutdown, according to TSA.

Are airports fully staffed with air traffic controllers?

The partial shutdown will not compromise air traffic control safety but will lower the total capacity that air traffic controllers can manage—leading to flight delays, according to the largest U.S. pilots union. Even before the shutdown, the U.S. government faced challenges staffing air traffic controllers because a large percentage of those skilled workers are eligible to retire (about 20% of the 1,900 total).

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