During shutdown, lines grow at airports

This was the TSA security line at normally sleepy Terminal 2 at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport on Sunday morning. It extended across the skyway and into the parking ramps.

TSA agents, deemed essential, are still not being paid during the government shutdown.

According to reports, many are simply not showing up for work. There are no reports of the blue flu in the Twin Cities, however.

After CNN aired its report on the “blue flu,” the administration hit back, Huffington Post said.

“Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out,” department spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted regarding the story. “CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them.”

At one point, the wait to be screened on Sunday morning was about an hour.

Related: The economic injustice behind the TSA ‘blue flu’ (CNN)

  • MikeB

    We are governed by morons and the corrupt

  • Mike Worcester

    Honestly, can one blame them? I have certainly been a critic over the years of how the TSA operates, but this situation is not the fault of the front-line employees or managers.

  • Postal Customer

    “Trump will hurt the country to help himself” — from today’s Times.

  • No waiting in St.Louis, though

  • johnepeacock

    The line was this same way on the 19th of December when I went to San Diego. As much as I wanna hop on the train, this has been happening at Humphey since before the shutdown. That terminal isn’t sleepy first thing in the morning anymore. It’s a huge rush to leave a small terminal with tons of vacation flights that all leave before 9am.

  • AmiSchwab

    if your not getting paid stay home folks. in any other country the workers would be on the streets demanding action. american workers have gotten way too complacent and let themselves be walked all over by their employers/government. rise up.

  • AL287

    I’ve reached a point in my life where I do not have to be anywhere in a big hurry.

    If there’s not a train that goes there I’ll drive.

    My son is a short drive or train ride away and all my siblings live within an hour of each other.

    Of course if Amtrak ever shuts down I’ll be in trouble but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    TSA is essential but you’re not going to pay them? They have every right to walk off the job, security be damned.

    And the jackass in the White House better think twice about calling them disloyal.

    I think it’s high time the U.S. House and Senate understand how the other half lives by having their income cut off when a government shutdown happens as a result of refusing to work across the aisle and come to a compromise.

    To the Democrats I say give the son of a *#$% the 5.8 billion dollars and use it as a bargaining chip for future hostage situations, I mean negotiations.

    This is no way to run a government.

    • jon

      //To the Democrats I say give the son of a *#$% the 5.8 billion dollars and use it as a bargaining chip for future hostage situations, I mean negotiations.

      capitulation isn’t the same as negotiations… and when the person responsible for an issue claims credit for it in advance, and then several times during (though also while blaming others during, because picking a message and staying on it isn’t trumps style) and has refused to give anything in return for getting what he wants, it’s not negotiation.

    • Brian Simon

      “This is no way to run a government.”

      This is the government we get when we empower a party that doesn’t believe in government.

    • theoacme

      Submission to a fascist isn’t any way to run a government, either.

  • Kassie

    I do not understand how working and not getting paid is legal. Even with the Feds furloughed, so no one to enforce the law, they are still breaking State laws by not paying employees. The MN Dept of Labor and Industry should be investigating. When the State is shutdown, those who work still get paid. Those who don’t get paid, don’t work. That’s how a furlough should work. If people are calling in sick, I hope it is to attend job interviews.

    • The Resistance

      The federal employees union filed a lawsuit on Monday, arguing that it is
      illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act to make federal employees
      work without pay.

  • MrE85

    I’m flying in a couple of weeks. Should I head to the airport today?

    • jon

      It depends on where you are flying too, what the cancelation policy is, and how cost effective ground transportation is.

      Might make the most sense just to cancel your tickets and take a greyhound… (because let’s face it, congress isn’t going to override trumps potential veto until some corporate lobbyists tell them too… and the airlines got lobbyists.)

      • MrE85

        I’m going to San Diego, so I better leave now…

        • jon

          Google says you can greyhound it there in about 48 hours.

          Might be worth considering.

          • wjc

            Ick!

    • AL287

      If you have some vacation time, I say cancel your flight and take Amtrak with a sleeper car. Showers are available as well.

      All meals are included. It’s like booking a hotel on wheels. The service is fantastic and the food is quite good but go early as the popular choices run out quickly.

      Why fly stuffed into a flying tin can? Less chance of getting the flu from a seat mate, too.

      To hell with the airlines, the train is the way to go.

      • The Resistance

        That’s a great solution if you have 80 hours for a roundtrip to Portland. Most people don’t have that much time.

        • jon

          He said he is going to san diego… quick look on amtrak suggests he could leave on a monday just before midnight and get there friday at 1am…
          Coach seat will costs about $300 one way, and a economy seat on a budget airline would cost half that round trip, non-stop round trip on delta costs about $200 according to google.

          We did the trip to portland on amtrak, and it was slow and expensive, it was a fun way to travel, but it’s certainly not cost effective, and it’s definitely not fast.

          (greyhound looks to cost just shy of $200 one way… it takes about 2 days… so it’s more expensive and slower than a flight, but cheaper and faster than amtrak)

          Of course all of these options offer upgrades, and probably have fees not listed on their websites…

          • Kassie

            I’d highly recommend the train to Portland, in the summer. We took it in February and it gets dark just as Montana is starting to get pretty. Getting a sleeper car is a must. Be ready to be forced to socialize with others in the dining car unless you have a party of four.

          • AL287

            // Be ready to be forced to socialize with others in the dining car unless you have a party of four. //

            That’s the beauty of train travel. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and to listen to others point of view.

            Take a risk, Kassie and get out of your comfort zone.

          • Jerry

            I mean, who doesn’t want to be forced to have a conversation with a racist Trump-voting man-baby, instead of having a peaceful meal by themselves, right?

          • AL287

            I haven’t taken the train since the bully-in-chief was elected so mealtime conversation has likely become more problematic.

            I can definitely see some pitfalls there. I like hearing other opinions but I don’t want to be beaten over the head with them which is what my family tends to do.

            I haven’t been down to see my family in Louisiana since my father died in January 2016 and since all of my 5 siblings voted for the dictator save one, she’s probably the only one I would consider visiting.

          • Kassie

            To be fair, of the three people we ate with, only one was a complete and total weirdo. I have a very high tolerance for weirdos, but this guy was just super weird. The other two were totally fine normal folks and were lovely to eat with.

          • jon

            There must be one on every train.
            We got one complete weirdo… but at the same meal we also chatted with an air force… she never gave her rank… headed to a base in montana (I recall thinking at the time from things she said, and thinks she didn’t said that she was part of a drone program), lovely conversation… weirdo kind of got quiet when we started having normal conversations.

          • Jerry

            I think train people, by their very nature, have a higher average level of weirdness than people who tend to take other forms of transportation. It doesn’t mean they can’t be pleasant, just a little weird.

  • The Resistance

    Acceptance in the the TSA Global Entry/Trusted Traveller programs is also suspended during the shutdown.

    The Democratic Party should be taking out wall to wall ads replaying Trump saying “I am proud to shut down the government” to remind everyone who is responsible for this mess.

    This is what government looks like when it has been drowned in a bathtub.

    • jon

      Wait for an election year… then the clips of the media interviewing travelers waiting to get through security (or missing their flights) running right against “I’m proud to shutdown the government” will be airing 24/7… along with “I didn’t get my SNAP benefits and my kids can’t eat”/”I’m proud…!” and “the national parks are a disaster, ruined our honeymoon!” “I’m proud…” and “It costs taxpayers xxx billion” “I’ll own it…!”

  • Barton

    I’ve decided the legislature should pass a bill that says he gets the $$ for the wall the second he gets all the land owners to sign over their privately held land & then put an expiration date on the money (if you don’t get the land by XX date, then the money is no longer there). There are still lawsuits from when Bush II tried to get his wall built using eminent domaine. They are never going to get the land.

    I mean, then POTUS gets what he wants, but we still won’t have to pay for the ridiculous wall.

  • The Resistance

    As well meaning as they are, I think the people volunteering to clean up parks, etc. need to stop. The more pain we all feel, the more pressure is put on the president. They may not realize it, but volunteers doing jobs that federal employees and contractors should be paid to do are acting like strikebreakers.

    • KariBemidji

      Yes. The people that whispering in President Trump’s ear are the ones that want to burn the federal government to the ground. And by volunteers ‘helping out during a time of need’ justifies their worldview.

      • DJ Wambeke

        What’s so bad in principle with local people taking ownership of keeping their environment clean via volunteer effort? The private/public model seems to work reasonably well with the state “adopt-a-highway” program, and certainly saves the state a lot of money. I’m not advocating federal workers working without pay, or completely abolishing the park service. But geez, if we have reached the point where, just in order to spite Trump, we are going to demonize folks trying, in whatever small and tangible way they can, to help keep the world functioning amidst massive dysfunction, then we have a massive problem on our hands, and one that goes well beyond Trump.

        • KariBemidji

          volunteers play a role in the system for sure, I’m not saying they don’t (I’m a volunteer services manager). They do along with employees. A volunteer should never be used to replace an existing employee. There is a certain variety of American who does not think we need the federal government at all. I fear that they would look at all this volunteer help and say ‘it ran so well, why do we need employees at all?’

          • DJ Wambeke

            Yeah there certainly is a certain kind of American who is extreme enough to want to pretty much do away with the Federal Govt, a disastrous move if ever there were one. But not everyone on the right (even those who favor some form of “limited government”) is a Grover Norquist devotee. If the reports are to be believed (I admittedly haven’t visited a Ntnl Park since the shutdown) the temporary volunteer corps isn’t exactly keeping up with the workload; if anything that should be pretty good evidence of the necessity of at least most of the employees…

        • L. Foonimin

          There is not a thing wrong with “… local people taking ownership
          of keeping their environment clean via volunteer effort?” and I don’t think anyone is demonizing anyone that wants to help out. However the comparison between Adopt-A-Highway and regular maintenance/servicing of restrooms is flawed.

          Adopt-a-Highway is normally done on an ad hoc, often
          irregular basis when the volunteers can get together and take care of their stretch of road. Toilet maintenance/servicing needs to be done regularly and frequently or we have hygiene and health issues. Unclean and non-functioning toilets merely push people into using alternatives e.g. the nearest tree or
          roadside and with unregulated entry as we currently have these situations are getting worse.

          Having worked for Dept of the Interior as a volunteer coordinator among other duties I can assure you volunteers and Friends Groups provide incalculable good service to our Parks in many ways, nevertheless except for the very rare
          exception, no one signs on to clean human feces off of toilet seats or to separate items in pit toilets because the hose plugs and the pit won’t empty.

          Under previous administrations entrance to National Parks
          and Monuments have been closed during federal shutdowns to protect the sites from the vandalism and resource degradation. True, Arizona did keep Grand Canyon open in the past but used state maintenance employees and funds to
          maintain minimal service.

          Hearing from LE Rangers still working – without pay, about
          some of the damage being done they can assure everyone when this is settled the backlog of maintenance will be overwhelming.

          • DJ Wambeke

            Adopt-a-Highway is normally done on an ad hoc, often
            irregular basis when the volunteers can get together and take care of their stretch of road.

            Thank you for the clarification. It was my understanding though that volunteers were required to clean up their assigned stretch of highway a minimum of twice per year. But maybe there’s no actual enforcement of that requirement? From what I have seen the roads are certainly not litter-free but they are definitely as clean as they would be if state employees were out there twice yearly doing the same thing.

            Hearing from LE Rangers still working – without pay, about
            some of the damage being done they can assure everyone when this is settled the backlog of maintenance will be overwhelming.

            They are in a terrible position, to be sure! I suspect though, that while overwhelming, the backlog will be slightly less than it would have been without the help of the volunteers who are currently chipping in.

          • The Resistance

            I get the urgency that Arizona feels the need to keep Grand Canyon open. The park contributes a lot to its tourism economy. But since the state is paying the cost to keep it open Arizona taxpayers are essentially paying twice for those services. And visitors are not paying the $35 entrance fee during the shutdown, making it cost even more.

            For a famously tax averse state, it seems curious to me that Arizonans aren’t too upset about the state’s Grand Canyon Protection Plan.

        • The Resistance

          As I said, they are well meaning and I applaud their commitment to cleaning up parks. But in the larger context they are enabling the president to continue to shut down the government repeatedly. Even those volunteering at parks have stated that it’s not a sustainable situation. I pay taxes to have people maintain parks. That’s the model that works. I’m not demonizing anyone, except the one person who has claimed responsibility for the shutdown.

          • DJ Wambeke

            I think “scab” is a fairly derogatory term, don’t you?

            I have no problem having qualified and well-paid staff taking care of our parks. But I also think there are a variety of workable models that the park system might employ and still achieve a solid result (does every single function necessarily need to be covered by a federal employee?). But regardless, I don’t want to see the parks go to hell just so that points can be scored in the struggle against the Current Occupant.

          • Jay T. Berken

            Maybe The Resistance should not have used the “scab” term in this context, because; now you are going down the road acting of as if these Federal workers are on strike. That is not what is going on here.

            Regardless if the workers of our parks are public, private or both; they are not going to work for free, and we can not have this administration think that Federal workers can be replaced by volunteers. It has been said, volunteers, although nice to have, are unpredictable and unreliable.

          • The Resistance

            You have a point. I’ve edited the wording in my post from scab to strikebreaker to make the tone more neutral. And the strikebreaker analogy is also problematic, for that matter. Thanks for pointing that out. Again, they are well-intentioned people.

            But my basic point remains that unpaid volunteers’ intervention makes it less likely that federal workers, who are suffering the most, will be able to return to full employment any time soon.

            We can have a debate as to whether every single function necessarily needs to be covered by a federal employee or contractor. In the middle of a federal shutdown, when federal and contract workers have no idea if they can pay next month’s rent, light bill, or day care is not the time for that debate.

          • JamieHX

            The parks already do use volunteers to help in the park system. If you want to expand that to more volunteers and fewer paid employees, suggest that to your congressperson when there isn’t a shutdown. Now is not the time. But even when there isn’t a shutdown and paid people and volunteers are both working, many parks are still under-staffed and under-funded, so taking away paid employees will not be a good thing.

    • Kassie

      Yes! Though I would love to see regular folks step in to the other positions Federal employees do. Like, my friend reviews and approves patents, I’d like to see a well meaning school teacher step in and do that work. Or my work will be affected soon because Minnesota’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid rep is furloughed. Maybe a retired marketing exec could step in and give Minnesota advice on how to meet the new process that was established. Maybe some girl scouts can get together to release tax returns as a service learning project?

      • The Resistance

        Sadly, even when this is over, I think it’ll be harder to find quality people to fill federal positions. No one wants to work for an employer that has a spotty record of paying their employees, especially in a tight labor market.
        And all of this because of a president and enablers who believe that 4th century technology is the way to enforce border security.

        • Kassie

          I’d be interested in what the current turnover rate is and the average time to fill open positions and compare it to Obama’s administration.

          Though, to be fair, even her in Minnesota we are having a hard time filling positions. It is the labor market. We can’t pay enough to get good candidates for a lot of positions. And now that it is clear most people will not get their student loans paid off after 10 years of service, what’s the point of even applying if you are young?

          • JamieHX

            Why do you say that most people won’t get their loans paid off after 10 years of service? I know that the profit-making organizations that are processing these situations have been trying to deny a lot of people, but I thought they were working on fixing that.

          • Kassie

            Because almost everyone who has applied has been denied. I know not a single month of my payments count because I’m not “paying correctly,” though at one time I was told I was fine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/09/24/public-service-loan-forgiveness-rejected/#4e98061e1824