US Gov. Shutdown now affecting Flights from Canada

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‎Today, ‎January ‎8, ‎2019, ‏‎30 minutes ago

Air travellers start to feel effects of US government shutdown

‎Today, ‎January ‎8, ‎2019, ‏‎38 minutes ago | Peter Muir

Provided by Press

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 By: The Associated Press


DALLAS — The partial government shutdown is starting to affect air travel and airlines including Air Canada and WestJet are recommending passengers arrive at airports at least 3 hours before departure for U.S. flights.

Both Air Canada and WestJet have posted updates on their websites about the 3 hour recommendation.

Air Canada’s advisory reads: “Air Canada advises customers travelling to the U.S. that they arrive at Canadian airports three hours prior to their scheduled departure time due processing times of customers by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.  Air Canada is working with the USCBP and local airports to improve processing and your patience is appreciated.”

Over the weekend, some U.S. airports had long lines at checkpoints, apparently caused by a rising number of security officers calling in sick while they are not getting paid.

Here are some common questions about the shutdown’s impact on airports and travel, along with the answers:


About 10,000 air traffic controllers who work for the Federal Aviation Administration and about 51,000 Transportation Security Administration officers have been told to keep reporting to work because they are deemed essential. Those workers at airport checkpoints, control towers and FAA radar stations aren’t being paid.


TSA admits that more screeners are calling in sick at some airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth International. It gave few numbers but issued a statement Friday saying that more have been missing work since the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The TSA said the effect was “minimal.”

Then over the weekend, travellers reported longer checkpoint lines at some airports, including LaGuardia in New York. On Monday, TSA tweeted that agents screened 2.22 million passengers nationwide on Sunday, which it called a “historically busy day due to holiday travel.” TSA said only about 220,000 travellers waited at least 15 minutes at checkpoints, while 0.2 per cent – fewer than 5,000 – waited at least 30 minutes.


TSA spokesman Jim Gregory said officials are managing. “If we don’t have appropriations by midweek or so, (officers) will miss their first paycheque. That’s obviously where it becomes more difficult,” he said.

Gregory said the agency has a team of officers who can go to airports facing a shortage, a tactic developed in case natural disasters prevented screeners from getting to work.


About 1,900 air traffic controllers – nearly one in every five – are eligible to retire right now and it’s not clear how many of them will stick around. They won’t get paychecks later this week despite working over the holidays.

“I don’t know how long they’re going to stay on the job if they’re not getting a paycheque,” said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

There is an even larger group of recently hired trainees and apprentices and Rinaldi said the prospect of a long shutdown could lead some of them to take other jobs.


The largest pilots’ union wrote to President Donald Trump last week urging a quick end to the shutdown, which it said was threatening the safety of the nation’s airspace.

Rinaldi, the controllers’ leader, said safety is not being compromised, but that capacity to manage traffic could be reduced, leading to flight delays. Others see that as less likely.

“It would have to get pretty bad before the government said (to airlines), ‘Hey, start scaling back your plans for service,’” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst. “You could see that in a worst-case scenario.”

An early test of the air traffic system could come around the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in Atlanta, when an influx of corporate jets and private planes will further crowd the sky above the nation’s busiest airport. Planning for handling that traffic has been put on hold, Rinaldi said.


Workers who aren’t deemed essential. That ranges from technicians who maintain equipment used in airport towers to clerical staff. Federal aviation safety inspectors have also been furloughed.


FAA spokesman Gregory Martin said the agency has been recalling inspectors for certain jobs including assignments at the airlines, as it did in previous government shutdowns.

“We’re going to continue to prioritize with the resources that we have,” Martin said. “Our focus is on the commercial air carriers and volumes of people they carry.”

Martin did not say how many inspectors are working or how the number of inspections being done compared with pre-shutdown levels.

Chuck Banks, one of those furloughed inspectors, said colleagues are being called in when an airline needs something, like a plane certified for flight. The routine, normal oversight of operations at airlines and repair shops is not being done, leaving companies to regulate themselves, he said.

“Do you like the fox watching the hen house?” he said. “Every day the government stays shut down, it gets less safe to fly.”


The National Transportation Safety Board is delaying accident investigations and hearings. While there have not been any fatal airline crashes, the board has delayed other investigations, including an examination of a Florida highway accident that killed five children on their way to Walt Disney World.

NTSB representatives did not answer phone calls or reply to emails Monday. A recorded message for the public affairs office said nobody would respond until the shutdown ends.

Some people who applied for Global Entry, a program that lets travellers get expedited clearance into the U.S., have had interviews cancelled. Gary Leff, who writes about travel on his View from the Wing blog, said that some airports are still processing applications.

The program is run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Spokespeople at the agency did not respond for comment.

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U.S. airports worry about mounting sick calls from TSA screeners as shutdown continues

‎Today, ‎January ‎9, ‎2019, ‏‎11 minutes ago | Washington Post

With screeners already calling in sick in unusually large numbers, U.S. airports are girding for disruptions next week if the partial government shutdown continues and Transportation Security Administration officers miss their first paycheck.

The airport security officers are caught in the political fight in Washington between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over money for a wall along the Mexican border. Thirteen federal departments and agencies have largely closed down operations since Dec. 22 because funding hasn’t been approved.

The 51,739 TSA officers, who screen bags and passengers at U.S. airports, are considered essential to security and were ordered to continue reporting for duty even though funding for their agency has been halted. In recent days the screeners have called in sick in growing numbers, according to the agency.

The sick calls have contributed to longer wait times at unspecified airports, but major disruptions haven’t been reported so far, said Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president for security at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington.

“We’re concerned that a prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports,” Bidwell said.


Airports are conducting talks with local TSA managers about finding ways to bolster TSA staffing, he said. Non-TSA employees aren’t permitted to screen bags and people, but can help at checkpoints by returning bins and managing lines.

“It’s certainly not built into their budgets right now, but if it came down to it they may look to find the resources to support that sort of thing on a voluntary and temporary basis,” Bidwell said.

TSA screeners already have limited rights compared to other federal employees and were suffering from low morale before the shutdown, said American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox. The AFGE represents about 44,000 TSA employees.

“It is completely unacceptable that the women and men who risk their lives safeguarding our airports are still required to report for work without knowing when they’ll be paid again,” Cox said in a press release.

Some officers have already quit and others are considering leaving their jobs, said Hydrick Thomas, president of the AFGE TSA Council. The average wage for an airport security officer is $40,000, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2016.


A Transportation Security Administration agent walks toward a screening area near a security check-point at O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.

So far, TSA is managing the small increase in officers not reporting to work, agency spokesman Michael Bilello said. On Sunday, more than 2.2 million people were screened at U.S. airports and more than 90 percent waited less than 15 minutes, Bilello said.

Wait times were normal at most large airports, according to agency data. New York’s LaGuardia Airport had waits that extended to 52 minutes, but that was because of unexpected traveler volume and management decisions, not because of staff shortages, he said.

TSA is taking multiple steps to ensure it can continue to perform screening. The agency has activated what it calls its National Deployment Force, which allows officers to be shifted to different airports to make up for staff shortages, Bilello said.

“If we go past Friday without a paycheck, that will be the first missed paycheck. Now we’re talking about a completely different environment,” he said. Officers have been paid up until now and are scheduled to receive a check on Friday.

After previous government shutdowns, Congress has passed legislation paying workers who were furloughed or who worked without receiving salaries.

The new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, wrote to TSA Administrator David Pekoske on Monday asking for more details about how workers are responding to the shutdown.

“I am concerned if wait times and public pressure increase, some TSA managers may try to manage the effects of the shutdown in ways that are detrimental to security,” Thompson said.

Airport screeners may still get their pay on time Friday if the impasse is resolved by midweek, Bilello said.

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51 minutes ago, boestar said:

maybe a blessing in disguise.  perhaps they will realize they dont actually need all the red tape at security anymore.

That would be hard to decide/prove.  Is the reason we have not had any repeat of 9/11 because of the security procedures or because they "terrorists" have lost interest in targeting aircraft? I, for one, don't mind the security measures continuing as their removal could backfire. 

 A OZ of prevention is worth more than a LB of cure in this regard or perhaps I should say:

28.3495 grams of prevention is worth more than 453.592 grams of cure.  ?

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15 hours ago, Malcolm said:

That would be hard to decide/prove.  Is the reason we have not had any repeat of 9/11 because of the security procedures or because they "terrorists" have lost interest in targeting aircraft? I, for one, don't mind the security measures continuing as their removal could backfire. 

 A OZ of prevention is worth more than a LB of cure in this regard or perhaps I should say:

28.3495 grams of prevention is worth more than 453.592 grams of cure.  ?

The 9/11 terrorists didn’t take anything through security that wasn’t allowed.  

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