Absences among USA airport screeners jump as shutdown drags on

Travellers wait near a closed down terminal at the Miami International Airport

The TSA confirmed the incident in a statement Sunday night, but it denied that it was related to callouts stemming from the government shutdown as hundreds of airport screeners are working without regular pay.

- TSA officials say Washington-Dulles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are exercising contingency plans due to call-outs following the weekend snow and anticipated high-volume, respectively.

An unsuspecting traveller who forgot a gun was in their carry-on luggage was able to take the firearm on an worldwide flight due to an airport security bungle, the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) has confirmed. After 1 p.m., Monday, all restaurants and shops in those terminals will be closed, after being shuttered Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

"The TSA Federal Security Director at IAD has decided, in collaboration with airport and airline leadership at IAD, to consolidate checkpoints today for more efficient screening operations".

"Financially, [government leaders] don't really know what exactly we're going through aside from this alone." said Randall Baker, who has been a TSA employee for nine years.

"I worry about getting through security in reasonable time", said Schneier, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center.

The government shutdown has also kept most Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors off the job, prompting many routine actions to come to a halt.

Many TSA employees have called out sick to protest having to work but not being paid because of the government shutdown.

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"This is really a response to the need of people who we work alongside everyday and aren't being paid, and so it's about doing the right thing for people who are part of the airport family", Scherberger said.

Airport spokesman Greg Chin said TSA was staffing the Concourse G checkpoint on Monday, but airport officials were monitoring the situation and would make more adjustments if necessary.

But screener staffing shortages forced George Bush Intercontinental Airport to shut down a security checkpoint and ticketing counter in Terminal B on Sunday afternoon, the airport said in a statement.

When contacted for comment by PEOPLE, the Georgia public affairs spokesperson for TSA did not immediately respond to questions.

The TSA will begin relocating airport screening officers "on a national basis to meet staffing shortages that can not be addressed locally", the federal agency said in a tweet Monday.

The security breach occurred around a week and a half into the current government shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, over President Donald Trump's demands for additional funding for his border wall along the U.S. -Mexico border. He said he was asking local food banks if they can help the workers.

Similar closures and so-called "sick outs" have struck other airports around the United States.

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