TSA employees working without pay calling in sick, security lines grow, flights delayed


OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) - The government shutdown has entered into day 17 after another round of talks over the weekend failed to find a breakthrough, leaving thousands of federal employees working without pay.

Some Transportation Security Administration workers have begun to call in sick, causing lines to grow through security, flight delays and higher tensions among TSA employees.

"I could see some of the TSA officers were, I wouldn't say frustrated, but they were very bold. They just kept repeating the same thing over and over, 'Keep a move on it. Get your liquids out. Take your laptop out. They were just in routine saying it over and over again," said Elyssa Hornbeck, traveling back to Oklahoma City from Newark, New Jersey.

Officials said call-outs have been increased by 200 to 300 percent at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport.

As many as 170 TSA employees have taken a sick day each day this week at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"I understand. Everyone wants to work and get paid for working because we work to live. I totally get it," said Beverly Cooper, traveling from Jacksonville, Florida.

Steve Jones said he was traveling from El Paso, Texas to OKC with a connecting flight in Houston.

"When I arrived, there was a line outside for the curbside check-in. I figured it would be less inside and the lines were twice as long. A couple of the flights were even delayed," said Jones.

But travelers said smaller airports, like Will Rogers World Airport, and even the larger O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, aren't seeing much of a change.

"It was normal. I didn't notice anything different," said Cooper.

"It was pretty smooth from what I could tell. There weren't any longer lines than normal. But, I could sympathize with the problem that they have with the government shutdown and not being paid in three weeks so I understand," said John Holland, traveling from Austin, Texas.

"Although they (TSA employees) were very frustrated and very bold I feel like they did a good job. Everything went smoothly. We did have to wait in TSA for quite a while but they did pretty great considering the circumstances," said Mackenzie Reuter, traveler.

Officials at the Will Rogers World Airport said they are not experiencing any unusual delays at its security checkpoints or any slowdowns.

TSA workers are required to work without pay through the partial government shutdown.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to address the nation from the Oval Office Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

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