Flying to or from the United States in the next little while? It’s never been more important to arrive early for your flight.
As the U.S. government shutdown drags on, so too do delays at airports across the country. Longer lines and wait times at security checkpoints are being reported from Miami to Seattle because some Transportation Security Administration agents aren’t showing up to work.
TSA agents are required to work unpaid during the shutdown. About 2,000 of them—almost four percent of the workforce—are missing their shifts each day, according to the agency.
Airports can be stressful at the best of times, so here are some tips to make your experience as smooth as possible during the shutdown.
GET TO THE AIRPORT EVEN EARLIER THAN USUAL
“If you’re supposed to check in two hours before a direct flight, give yourself three or three-and-a-half hours when you’re heading to the States or returning to Canada,” says Roland Van Meurs, AMA Travel member services manager for St. Albert.
BUILD IN TIME FOR CONNECTIONS
We can’t always choose a direct flight to our U.S. destinations. Sometimes, we need to catch a connecting flight—in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto. “If you’re booking a flight to the U.S. and you’re connecting in Canada, give yourself more than an hour between flights to go through U.S. security and customs,” he says. “Pick the next connection, two or three hours later.”
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DON’T COUNT ON COMPENSATION
Travel insurance won’t cover missed flights or cruises due to TSA delays. But if delays are causing longer waits than usual, airport officials will often look for passengers with impending flights and let them go to the front of security lines, Van Meurs says.
Delays are frustrating. Just remember: 51,000 TSA agents aren’t getting paid as long as the shutdown continues. It’s been ongoing since December 22, 2018.