MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As the government shutdown continues, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are still feeling the impact. Thousands, including 51,000 TSA workers, have yet to be paid in 2019 after missing their first paycheck on Jan. 11.
TSA workers who report to the Montgomery Regional Airport told WSFA 12 News they were told not to do interviews with the media, but they confirmed they were not paid as scheduled on the 11th. WSFA 12 News reached out to Michael McNeal, the TSA manager in Montgomery, but he said he is not authorized to speak for the agency. When WSFA 12 News reached out to TSA’s public affairs office, an automated recording explained that no one was able to monitor the line “due to lack of federal funding."
However, TSA released this information Friday, stating the agency anticipates high travel volume over the holiday weekend. The document also states TSA is experiencing higher percentages of unscheduled absences than usual, with many employees stating they cannot come to work because of “financial limitations.”
Airports in cities like Atlanta and Houston were forced to close checkpoints this week due to lack of available TSA agents, forcing long wait times for air passengers trying to get through security. However, according to TSA, 99.7 percent of passengers travelling on Thursday waited less than 30 minutes. On Thursday, the highest maximum standard wait time was 47 minutes in Atlanta. The Atlanta Airport also saw the highest TSA Pre-Check wait time, which was 20 minutes.
In Montgomery, airport employees said they’ve seen “an uptick” in wait times in the morning, but “nothing substantial.”
On Friday afternoon, passengers were able to move through the line in a matter of minutes. Some passengers went through security without having to wait in line.
Alexis McLemore, a student at Tuskegee University, said she’s been travelling back-and-forth to see her family in Detroit a number of times in the past week. The Atlanta-native said she’s flown out of Atlanta as well as stopped there for layovers since the shutdown started.
“It’s been kind of crazy," said McLemore. “It’s been and hour-and-a-half to two-hour waits.”
On Friday, she said she was excited to not wait in a line to get through security for her flight out of Montgomery.
Friday marked the 28th day of the shutdown.