Sick Calls Close TSA Checkpoints

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The Transportation Security Administration is warning that there could be more security checkpoint closures and longer lines at the screening points that are open after at least two closures over the weekend. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental closed all of Terminal B late Sunday because too many TSA workers, who are not being paid in the government shutdown, called in sick. The terminal remained closed early Monday. At Miami International Airport, a concourse was closed because of the staff shortage. TSA spokesman Jim Gregory told CNN it might be just the beginning. "As we have stated previously, airports in certain locations will begin exercising consolidation options during peak periods," he said. "These decisions will be made at the local level.”

The TSA said Monday that about 7.6 percent of TSA agents nationwide had called in sick over the weekend compared to the normal rate of about 3.2 percent. CNN reported that left managers unsure whether they would have the staff to keep the normal number of checkpoints open at Miami and Houston. The TSA said 99.1 percent of passengers nationwide got through security in 30 minutes or less over the weekend and precheck waits were five minutes or less. Nevertheless, the timeworn advice to get to the airport early is gaining poignance. “Passengers are encouraged to arrive early and give themselves extra time to check in for their flights and to clear the security checkpoints," Houston airport officials said in a statement Sunday night. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association told AVweb that absentee rates for controllers, essential employees who also are not being paid, were normal.