Traveling During a Government Shutdown

a map of a tree with starsThe government shutdown has lasted over three weeks, and the effects are definitely being felt by travelers. TSA agents are among those affected by the shutdown, working without pay at airports across the country. As a result multiple airports have reported shutting down security lanes or even entire terminals for periods of time. This means delays at airport security and throughout the flying process.

Ideally if you can avoid traveling right now you should. However, some of us have to still have to fly during this time. It won’t be easy, but here are some suggestions to make traveling during a government shutdown more manageable.

Check your flight times. Because there are so many delays right now keep an eye on your departure time. However, if it looks like you can leave later for the airport be sure to check FlightAware to be sure the incoming flight is actually delayed. That being said….

Get to the airport early. Many of the busiest airports are reporting lengthy security delays. A reporter in Atlanta this morning waited almost two hours just to go through security! There are some apps that claim to have this information, including MyTSA, Fleet, and MiFlight, but they’re not always updated. I plan to go twice as early as normal this week and will report back how it goes.

Power up. Waiting in line means more time on your devices away from plugs. Make sure your devices are charged and that you have some sort of power device so you can charge on the go.

Bring entertainment. Long lines are pretty awful and tempers can get short. Make sure you have something to do to pass the time, whether it’s watching a movie, responding to emails, or catching up on the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Be ready. During busy times it’s even more important to be ready when you arrive at the front of the security line. Have your boarding pass and ID out, your laptop and liquids bag easily accessible, and everything out of your pockets.

Give yourself some extra time. Normally I choose flights with the shortest realistic connection. Right now I’m choosing flights with a little more wiggle room to account for delays.

Basically, travel during this period as if it were a busy period like Spring Break. And remember–while lines and delays are frustrating, TSA agents are not being paid right now and don’t know when they will be again.

Readers, have you traveled during the shutdown? Seen any delays or other impacts?


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