Wait Times at 11 of America’s Largest Airports Top 20 Minutes as Shutdown Continues

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In a joint statement, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) said they were concerned about the effects of the partial government shutdown on flight safety. Among the issues is the number of TSA personnel who no longer come to work. The drop in the availability has created another critical problem. Wait times for passengers have increased and are now over 20 minutes at some of America’s largest airports.

The three airline associations pointed to the rapid spread of the problem:

The situation is changing at a rapid pace. Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow. Safety inspectors and federal cyber security staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay. Last Saturday, TSA management announced that a growing number of officers cannot come to work due to the financial toll of the shutdown. In addition, we are not confident that system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100 percent operational due to reduced FAA resources.

The trouble has driven down the number of fliers, according to airlines. Several have said their earnings already have been hurt and the problem will grow. It is one of many examples of how the partial shutdown has begun to hit business beyond those directly connected to the 800,000 federal employees already out of jobs. At the end of the week, they will have missed two paychecks.

In two of the largest American airports — Boston and Atlanta — average wait times have gone above 40 minutes. Atlanta is the world’s largest airport based on passenger traffic.

These are the 11 big airports where average wait times have risen above 20 minutes, based on TSA data from January 22:

Airport Max Standard Wait Time Max Precheck Wait Time
Logan International Airport, Boston 42 12
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 41 19
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 29 13
Newark Liberty International Airport 28 8
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, San Juan 28 4
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport 27 5
LaGuardia Airport, New York 26 10
Miami International Airport 26 4
Bradley International Airport, Hartford 24 10
Orlando International Airport 23 4
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 21 6