Miami Airport Terminal Closing Early Due To TSA Shortage

Filed Under: Security/TSA

Nearly a week ago I wrote about the impact that the government shutdown is having on the TSA. TSA agents are considered “essential,” meaning that they have to still show up to work even during the shutdown, while they’re not getting paid.

We’re now 20 or so days into the current government shutdown, and government employees have now gone without a paycheck. This has a big impact on everyone, especially the roughly 80% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.

There were reports of big increases in the number of TSA employees calling in sick. This is probably a combination of factors — one being that everyone seems to be sick the past couple of weeks, and probably even more so the fact that many people can’t afford to come to work without pay:

  • For many people, even going to work is expensive, between gas money, tolls, child care, etc., when they’re not getting paid
  • Peoples’ first priority is putting food on the table for their family, so many people are turning to things like Uber to make a quick buck, since the government isn’t paying them

Anyway, there’s now a pretty concrete example of the impact that the shutdown is having on the TSA. For the next three days (on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), the TSA will be closing one of the checkpoints at Miami International Airport early.

Specifically, the Terminal G checkpoint will be closing at 1PM. Flights that were scheduled to depart after that time will be shifted to other terminals. Per a TSA spokesperson:

“Due to an increased number of TSA screeners not reporting to work, we have decided to take this precautionary step and relocate about 12 flights to adjoining concourses in the afternoons.”

Apparently Miami Airport is seeing double the number of screeners call in sick as usual, and they’re not confident they’ll have enough workers to operate all 11 checkpoints, so they’re erring on the side of caution.

For what it’s worth, I find that Miami Airport already has among the worst security lines of any major US airport (especially the Pre-Check line, which unlike at other airports, doesn’t take just a few minutes to get through), so personally I’d recommend arriving even earlier than usual if you’re flying the next few days. And make sure you go out of your way to be nice to the TSA.

What has your experience been with TSA wait times the past couple of weeks?

  1. I hate this. Being a frequent flyer who flies once every 2-3 days and being based in NYC means very very long lines at TSA. I had a conversation with a few of them and they all were really angry but still most of them kept calm. Since I fly one particular route most of the time at the same time I often recognize the TSA personnel and they recognize me. Sometimes they even let me skip the entire line. That really comes in handy.

  2. I flew through SAN and SFO this past week, SFO was pretty normal I’d say (Intl Terminal), however in SAN, 95% of TSA I could see were tired and were pretty rude.

  3. @williamw

    you’d be rude too if you were being forced to work for free and worrying about how to pay your bills and feed your family because our toddler of a president wants a new toy.

  4. “And make sure you go out of your way to be nice to the TSA.”

    They dont exactly do that to passengers, do they?

  5. @ Phil — Be that as it may, I don’t think it’s fair to attack people while they’re down, which these people most definitely are right now.

  6. I mention this on Gary’s blog but what does this accomplished?

    1. They will eventually get back pay so it isn’t as if they are donating their time.

    2. Sick leave is paid time-off a federal worker accumulates. So taking sick leave means you are giving up paid time off you’ve accumulated and you will have less of it when you may need it for a real sickness later. And for those closer to retirement it can boost your retirement pay since it counts towards service time.

    Either they just want to show everyone they are frustrated so they don’t mind giving up the sick leave (seems to me pretty stupid) or they are taking on a second job and getting paid from that job while also on sick leave (which is probably not legal), or are just planning to quit and will try to use up the sick leave prior to quitting.

    Of course I’m probably assuming people are smarter than they usually are.

  7. @rich,

    Eventually getting payed doesn’t work when you have bills to pay now (and it’s not loke tsa is a lucrative career)

    Your comment comes across as entitled, obnoxious and completely disconnected from the struggles of people trying to make a living a pay the bills. Not sure if that was your intent.

  8. @rich While they aren’t donating their time, try telling your bank that you’re going to pay the mortgage in a few weeks because you aren’t getting paid right now and see what the reaction is. TSA agents may be paid more than the minimum-wage rent-a-cops they replaced, but they are still pretty far down the government pay ladder. These are not folks making a ton of money that you’d expect to have lots of savings.

    The very act of going to work costs money. There are commuting costs and day care expenses, for example, so not going to work saves money. Sure, a federal employee found to be working while on sick leave would likely face administrative action, but one can understand the conundrum they face.

    It may seem stupid to you to use sick leave just to vent frustration but WE CANT STRIKE. This is about the only way to demonstrate frustration at being pawns in a political game.

  9. @rich

    “1. They will eventually get back pay so it isn’t as if they are donating their time.”

    Yes/no. In order for them to get back pay my understanding is Congress has to pass a bill allowing it. It’s not a given. Granted – it has always happened but if you are living paycheck to paycheck would you be in a happy mood knowing you are working currently without pay and then depend on the people who shut down the government in the first place to pay you later?

  10. @Ben L – It’s not actually far off, but in my case it’s only one wrong as i havent had any interaction with the TSA in a while.

    @Lucky I agree in that not to attack them – i find speaking to them with a british accent and a smile suddenly perks up their attitude.

  11. I hope the entire TSA quits and we can go to contracted private screeners like we should have had instead of a government monstrosity.

    Let them find a job in the private sector.

  12. @Phil

    That doesn’t make it better. you kicked people while they’re down and basically just admitted you have limited actual experience with them. You were just piling on based on other people’s comments. Nice.

  13. @gilam Your comment is quite obtuse. Sure, the President and the GOP hold part of the responsibility, but the Democrats in turn share equal responsibility. What I’m saying, is that all of the politicians in Washington are to blame, both Republicans and Democrats, because both sides are inflexible and refuse to compromise. Once again, the American people are being screwed by Washington. Until extreme partisan politics disappears, we might as well get used to no real progress in our country.

  14. I flew FAT –> LAX, LAX –> BNA this week. I do not agree with the mission of TSA, but I thanked each TSA person I came into contact with starting Sunday. They shouldn’t have to work without pay, but there they were. Several responded that this was their mission. I found they were actually more pleasant than they usually are, and appreciative that I recognized the situation they are in.

  15. @Mary, if they are working, they will get paid. It is illegal for them not to be. It is people who are furloughed and cannot report to work who are not guaranteed back pay, though in the past have been.

  16. @Larry – if we had contracted private screeners, how would they get paid if the government didn’t pay the company providing the screeners? They might be able to go a few weeks without their bills getting paid, but eventually they’d not get paid either, and since they’re not government employees they could just walk.

    There are good arguments for replacing the TSA, but the Trump Shutdown isn’t one of them.

  17. @Jesse Thomas – when the shutdown began, the GOP controlled BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS. They could have prevented the shutdown without a single Democrat vote. And the new Democrat-controlled House passed the GOP-controlled Senate’s pre-holiday-break version of the security bill as soon as they were in office, with more funding for security, just not the one specific thing the Infant-In-Chief wants.

    And compromise is a two-way street. Polls show the majority of the American people don’t want the wall (barrier, steel fence, aluminum curtain, whatever.) Trump is the only one standing in the way.

  18. I love debit.

    And Jesse you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s the republicans holding the country hostage. The democrats are standing up and refusing to pay for some idiotic wall. Do you want to pay for it. I sure as hell don’t. They have said time and time again to open the government but your trump baby refuses to sign anything without wall funding.

    And not sure where alien figure mcconell is in all of this. Must be vacationing somewhere. We sure as hell have to hear his hillbilly mouth filled with marbles though when there’s justices to confirm.

    Anyways….Debits awesome.

  19. Regardless of the situation of the government shutdown and TSA workers not coming in, if it means that Terminal G at MIA is closed by 1PM, thats a win for everyone in my book. Easily one of the worst terminals in the country.

  20. The airport or a fund sent up through service charges charges per ticket. Take a look at the itemized cost of your ticket to see how much goes to other services than flying.

    Plain fact is government workers USE tax payers funds. This is a risk you get when you work for the government.

    Let them quit. That is their right. Dems can simply compromise and allow additional wall to be built. Instead they refuse to do anything and this happens. Maybe if we had a smaller government not intertwined with everything we wouldn’t worry so much when it shuts down.

  21. SAN and PHL TSA looked about normal this week when I transited early in the morning and upon return through PHL mid afternoon.

    I been a road warrior since before 9/11 and the creation of TSA and frankly, I can’t recall a single incident with a TSA agent that was less than courteous and professional. I’m always shocked to hear that folks have such animosity toward these workers. In any event, missing a paycheck is a big deal for me and I’m sure the same is true for 80% of Americans. And I ageee with Lucky, it’s rather shameful to pile-on, after all, whatever side of the political divide you stand on, these folks didn’t cause the problem.

  22. All federal employees have been payed so far. Including the non-essential employees staying at home and enjoying their PAID vacation. The TSA employees–who are considered essential–have nothing to complain about. They will be payed as usual no matter how long the shutdown continues. They have nothing to complain about.

  23. DCA, DFW, and LAX were all fine this week. DC was actually the quietest I have seen it in years. Might be the case in DC that the city itself is much quieter with contractors and govt employees not flying in or out. In Dallas I saw something odd…a TSA agent sitting at the screen in a polo shirt and jeans…no uniform. I did not ask why (as I was curious) but have taken the time to thank them for keeping us flying when I pass through.

  24. Whats scary is whats going on behind the scenes.

    Air Traffic Control isnt getting paid either.

    Do you want their minds to be on paying their rent on time, or on safety landing your plane?

  25. F and G are 2 of the most discussing concourses this have ever encountered. It’s a dam shame they should be in 1950s condition
    And D like brand new
    I feel like I’m in another country when I travel through F and G. And they are connected to nothing. Poor food options. Ancient bathrooms. Glue down rugs !!! Close them for good and rip them down

  26. @williamw

    The screeners at SFO aren’t TSA, they are workers that are under contract with the TSA. I imagine they are still seeing a paycheck.

  27. Just flew from DFW to LAX. Security lines at DFW were pretty much normal. Glancing out at the LAX T7 checkpoint, it seemed normal as well.

    @CraigTPA – nice try but not true. Any bill that passes the House requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, unless McConnell nukes the filibuster. Unless 9 of your Dem buddies wanted to vote to build the wall, any funding bill was headed nowhere.

  28. Everyone knows thise people that work in Miami have a very poor work ethic. They look for every opportunity to screw the system. Pelosi and Chuck should be ashamed.

  29. Its in their contracts and they should all know something like this could happen at anytime.
    If they dont like the fact they are required to show up to the work, even if the governemnt is shutdown they shouldn’t have signed the contract agreeing they would.

  30. If everyone would tip each TSA worker just $1, they could all come to work. 😉

    Also, affected workers can get 0% APR loans right now if they apply, which is cool. Except me…dangit!

  31. This is a complete farce. I’d say ALL government employees who are “essential” and yet not getting paid, should walk off the job and let the country go into chaos. How dare the government (who ARE being paid…) expect these poor people to turn up without a guaranteed paycheck.
    So glad I don’t have to fly withing the USA.

  32. I come to work because I swore an oath. That meant something. I serve the flying public and the nation as a whole. But part of that contract is compensation for the time I give to that service. And when the compensation stops how long can you expect people to hold up their end.

  33. The airport in my town is rather small, so I wonder how many TSA agents and air traffic controllers in total actually live here. Seems like they could quite easily coordinate and shut down the airport do to all being “out sick.” I have to fly to Finland next Saturday so I hope I don’t have to drive to Atlanta.

  34. Meanmeosh – not true. In December, whilst Republicans controlled both houses, the house and senate passed clean CRs. Went to White House for signature but then right wing media pounced on our chicken livered tRump and he decided not to sign. Shutdown started 9 days before dems were in control of the house.

  35. @rich All leave is cancelled during a furlough, so there is no sick leave…or annual for that matter. Yes, we will get back pay, but the projections are now that the furlough will go through the end of February. Two months with no pay?

  36. @grrizzly We have NOT been paid! Don’t be ignorant. It is not a paid vacation. I’m working a second job just to provide for my family, so please understand I’m very tired and not focused when I’m reporting for my unpaid job.

  37. @grrizzly – that’s simply not true. Many federal workers did not receive a paycheck today, family members of mine included.

  38. @Lucky – it would be worthy to note the first missed paycheck was today. 100% that sucks. But federal employees saying last week – or even this week – they have been without pay are being less than truthful.

    100% everyone who has been working should get paid now for what they worked. This should be fixed ASAP.

    For those of you worrying about the furloughed workers on unpaid holiday… the House has already passed legislation today to give them all their pay for not working – over 400 yes votes. So any furloughed federal employee who was able to have savings is enjoying a nice paid vacation through the holidays.

  39. Worry for the safety in Miami if TSA is skiving at security. Just a matter of time before a crazy white Christian male shoots people up. Stay safe people!

  40. @Debit – you’re the worse kind of racist. I don’t believe @Lucky intends his blog to become political but you shouldn’t be posting such hate.

  41. We have TSA because of people trying to attack the USA. Maybe we should put TSA on the border. I’m sure making them go through the long lines, metal detectors, take their shoes off might make these illegal stay home.

  42. @grrizzly- We are not getting paid…I am not TSA, but am “essential” and didn’t see my check.

    Eventually (who knows when that is), we should get paid as its law. the ones on furlough risk not being paid, yet generally have been in the past, but there is no guarantee and it is not law for them to be paid. I furloughed myself a couple of days already, that I may not be paid for… yea it is what it is, but it doesn’t make it right.

    But ask yourself this question, hypothetically, this goes on for 4 months. Would you still be eager to show up for work if you haven’t been paid in 4 months? Would no one in your department or workforce complain? Would some not think of leaving?

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