The US is entering the longest government shutdown in its history, coming in at 28 days with many federal employees missing two paychecks. This has particularly hit Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees hard, since they cannot strike and are required to continue working despite the lack of pay. Consequently, after such an extended period, more and more TSA workers aren’t coming into work or are considering looking for other employment. This affects passengers trying to get through security to catch their flights, which can possibly result in longer lines.
To What Extent Has Airline Travel been Affected by the Government Shutdown?
Fortunately, since January is a very slow travel period, being the slowest month in 2018, airlines and passengers haven’t been affected too much. Certain effects of the shutdown, not felt directly by passengers, include a hold on new aircraft certifications, and new licenses for workers, such as mechanics. The shutdown hasn’t yet resulted in widespread delays and cancelations, but there is potential for this in the future as passenger numbers pick up. If the shutdown continues, other essential employees, such as traffic controllers, may begin to call in sick more frequently which would force the government to limit the amount of air traffic.
What is the Best Way to Prepare for Future Travel if the Shutdown Continues?
If the government shutdown continues into February, it’ll be a good idea to consider alternative means of transportation if possible. Rather than take a domestic flight, it might be worth considering an intercity bus or train. However, if traveling by plane is necessary, then you should be sure to stay up to date with the status of your flight and arrive at the airport especially early to prepare for longer lines. If, in the worst-case scenario, the shutdown lasts long enough for air traffic to be limited in and out of the country, be sure to research nearby airport hubs and see which ones are most likely to offer the flights you need. You may need to travel a bit further to catch an available flight.