Travelers could face delays if there’s a government shutdown
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The deadline is looming, and within days, the federal government could shut down if Congress doesn’t reach an agreement for funding. A shutdown would affect everything from food safety inspections to small business loans and airports, and the longer it lasts, the more obvious the impacts will be.
Essential workers, like TSA officers and air traffic controllers, would have to show up for work without pay, which could lead to flight delays and longer wait times for travelers, similar to previous government shutdowns. “In 2019, about two weeks in, give or take, there were hundreds of TSA agents that called out sick, and it actually had a pretty immediate impact on those looking to travel within that time period due to the fact that there was not enough staff, so security lines were considerably longer than they typically are,” said travel expert Katy Nastro from Going, a flight company.
According to the White House, nearly 1,400 TSA security officers and 184 controllers in Arizona would be impacted by a government shutdown. People who need a new or renewed passport may also face delays. Current passport processing time is between 10 and 13 weeks or 7 and 9 weeks for an expedited passport, according to a U.S. Department of State spokesperson. Travelers should also expect mailing to and from a passport center to add four weeks to the process. In its written contingency plan for a government shutdown, the State Department said, “scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at our posts overseas will continue as the situation permits,” but noted, “If a passport agency is located in a government building affected by the lapse, the facility may become unsupported.”
“If you’re looking to travel in the next year, definitely send it in so you give yourself as much time as possible, and so you’re pleasantly surprised when you get it back earlier than getting to a scenario where you need it immediately, and you don’t have enough time,” Nastro suggested.
Earlier this month, Polly Trottenberg, the acting FAA Administrator, will be “immensely disruptive” to the agency’s plan to hire 1,800 controllers. “If we shut down for a couple of weeks, it takes a lot more than a couple of weeks to recover, particularly on the training side.”
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