Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is feeling the effects of the ongoing partial government shutdown more than most.
Security lines at the hub were an hour to 90 minutes Monday, causing many flyers to miss their flights. This comes after reports Sunday that a traveler managed to board a flight from Atlanta carrying a firearm earlier this month.
The passenger with the firearm eventually reported it to the airline, saying they had forgotten the weapon was in their carry-on luggage. There was no flight delay or other incident arising from the mistake.
The troubles at Atlanta are magnified because of the airport’s prominence. Hartsfield-Jackson has consistently ranked as the world’s busiest airport since 2000. At least six lanes were closed Monday, traditionally the busiest travel day.
Atlanta is hardly alone. Last Friday, Miami International Airport closed the security checkpoints at one of its six terminals for three afternoons due to a shortage of TSA screeners. After 1 p.m. today, all restaurants and shops in those terminals will be closed, after being shuttered Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
An estimated 51,000 TSA officers are currently working without pay because of the shutdown. That represents over 6% of all government employees being ordered to do so.
As the situation drags on, more and more TSA employees are calling in sick or not coming.
The TSA, however, is downplaying the impact.
“As the current lapse in funding persists, TSA officers continue to perform with the utmost professionalism and dedication,” TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said last week. “We thank TSA officers for their resilience and diligence, and we thank industry and the public for their continued acts of kindness and support.”