Government shutdown could lead to longer wait times at airports

MOSINEE,Wis (WSAW) -- With federal employees going almost a full month without getting paid due to the government shutdown, many TSA agents are now calling in sick to work.

Airports around the country are warning travelers to expect longer than usual wait times to get past security.

“Previously we were recommending 90 minutes for domestic travel, and two hours for international travel. You may want to add an additional 30 minutes for each of those,” stated Brian Grefe who is the Airport Director for the Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA).

Many frequent flyers say that despite not getting paid, TSA agents who are showing up for work eager for the shutdown to come to an end.

“As I traveled from Denver I did notice that the TSA agents seemed pretty down,” added Lori Mcgehee who travels to CWA monthly. “I made sure I thanked each one for being there.”

Although CWA officials tell NewsChannel 7 that TSA agents are showing up for work at their location, other airports are having major issues. In Houston, Texas, an entire terminal had to be closed due to the amount of TSA agents that called in sick.

“TSA has stated time and time again that our national security will not be jeopardized because of the government shutdown,” explained Grefe. “If that means more work with fewer people that means longer wait times.”

Many travelers have sent thank you cards, food and money to TSA agents for volunteering their time. According to airport officials, baked goods are accepted as well as gift cards with a limit of $20 per employee.

Meanwhile, federal employees in Wisconsin can apply for unemployment benefits to help meet their financial needs while they wait for work to resume.