DAYTON, OHIO (WDTN)- As the countdown to a government shutdown has turned from weeks to days, those flying for Thanksgiving may be stuck in long lines.
On Friday, Nov. 17, the government will be shut down if Congress cannot agree to keep it open. Just in time for Thanksgiving, this means you could be standing in longer line at the airport.
“For the American traveler I don’t think that you could pick a worse week to shut the government down,” said Dr. Janet Bednarek, University of Dayton professor of history.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting a record number of people this Thanksgiving to be screened. By next Monday, they could be working while not getting paid.
“There’s a record number of people who want to travel for this holiday and a government shutdown is just going to put stresses on the system that are already stressed to full capacity,” said Dr. Bednarek.
In 2018 and 2019 during the longest shutdown, TSA agents who called in sick went from 3% nationwide to 10%. An air traffic controller shortage halted flights at LaGuardia Airport.
“TSA are likely to have a lot of sick outs, air traffic controllers who are willing to work overtime when they’re being paid are likely not going to be willing to work overtime when they’re not going to be paid,” said Dr. Bednarek.
Those sick calls will lead to longer lines. Travel experts recommend arriving early to check in.
“Well for air travel, we’re looking at 6.6% increase. So that’s going to be a lot of extra people. We’re just telling people to obviously pack their patience,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA public affairs manager.
According to the Tourism Economics analysis, the air travel industry would lose $36 million for every day the government is shut down. To cut down on wait times, you can apply for TSA PreCheck.