Shutdown prompts major personnel shortage at BWI

- As the shutdown drags on, it continues to impact people keeping travelers safe in the sky.

The Transportation Security Administration says one in 10 of its employees scheduled to work on Sunday failed to show up – with many saying they can’t afford to work without a paycheck. TSA employees are among the lowest paid in the federal workforce.

The excessive callouts forced TSA to close checkpoint A at BWI Marshall on Saturday until further notice. The checkpoint did open for a time on Monday, but then closed again due to staffing issues.

The airport says travelers will face minimal, if any, impacts and can use checkpoints B and C.

The bigger concern among the people at the airport Monday is what could happen in the days and weeks ahead.

“As this drags on, this is going to get worse, not better,” said Seth Kaplan, editor of Airline Weekly. “This is an off peak travel season. These people started calling in after Christmas and New Year’s, so if this drags on, imagine how bad this could be spring break, Easter,  Passover travel.”

Despite the high number of employees out,  TSA says 99.9 percent of passengers nationwide waited less than 30 minutes in security lines on Sunday. FOX 5 couldn’t find any travelers who had any trouble on Monday coming into BWI.

Some voiced concern about how the security shortage would impact airport safety and every traveler FOX 5 talked to was sympathetic toward TSA employees. 

“I just feel for them. It’s hard enough to live on a paycheck, but having to work and not get a paycheck I think is disgraceful,” said traveler Sheila Privor.

“I feel very sorry for them. I was a federal employee for 12 years, went through one shut down myself. I know how they feel,” said Arthur Prior.

“We came originally off of a cruise ship on Friday, and there was not enough customs people there, so there was a big hold up there,” said another traveler, Harold Rothman. “We thanked them for being there, the customs people and the TSA agents. They’re doing their jobs, which is nice. Maybe the government will decide to do its job.”

BWI has set up a food drive for impacted employees.

You can drop of canned items at the baggage claim level at the Maryland Transportation Authority police station.

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