TSA

TSA getting love + shutting checkpoints

As the partial government shutdown slogs on, the Transportation Security Administration says an increasing number of its officers are facing financial difficulties and not showing up for work.

That’s causing longer wait times at some major airports around the country. It’s also forcing some airports to close some checkpoints.

Checkpoint A was closed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

And the security checkpoint in Terminal B continues to be shut down at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

TSA officers, air traffic controllers and other federal workers who have been showing up for work at airport may not be getting paychecks, but across the country, they are getting lots of love, food and assistance from airlines, airports, restaurants, community groups and the general public. Here’s a slightly updated version of the story I filed this weekend for CNBC.

At Bellingham International Airport in Washington, about 20 miles from the Canadian border, budget airline Allegiant Air provided pizza for TSA workers on Thursday.

In Las Vegas, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak not only visited with TSA workers at McCarran International Airport to express his appreciation for their service and commitment to the airport and to the community, he followed up by having hot pizzas delivered.

These, and many other pizza thank-yous, are coming on the heels of last week’s gesture of goodwill from Canadian air traffic controllers who sent more than 300 pizzas to their counterparts in more than 40 airports in the United States. Air traffic controllers in the Canadian city of Edmonton got the (dough) ball rolling.

Of course, TSA and FAA employees working without paychecks can’t live by pizza alone.

At Seattle Tacoma International Airport, donations of non-perishable food and gifts cards are being collected and distributed daily.

Seattle-based Washington Federal is offering interest-free, 90-day loans, with no loan fees or application fees, to TSA, FAA and other federal workers waiting for paychecks in eight western states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

“We are proud to step in and help our hard-working neighbors get through this uncertain time and support their financial needs,” said Washington Federal President and Chief Executive Officer Brent J. Beardall in a statement, “We hope other financial institutions will do the same.”

And in San Jose, California, the City Council this week endorsed Mayor Sam Liccardo’s proposal to set up a no-interest short-term loan program for many of the 500 federal employees who have been working at Mineta San Jose International Airport without pay.

The program, which may be funded through airport revenues and administered in partnership with one or more financial institutions, proposes loans equal to monthly take-home pay for FAA air traffic controllers, TSA workers and officers working for Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“We are going to do everything in our power to keep political dysfunction in Washington from creating service disruptions or safety issues here in San Jose,” said Liccardo. “Mineta San Jose International Airport is vital to our local economy and we need our highly-skilled and trained federal workers there to keep it running smoothly. That’s why we are exploring tools, like these local bridge loans, to help keep these essential workers on the job.”

Meanwhile, across the country, airports continue to gather and distribute donations for federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown.

At Orlando International Airport, there has been overwhelming response to a donation drive headed up by the Airline Management Council. On Thursday the airline tweeted a short video of a room with tables piled high with everything from donated diapers to toilet paper and canned goods.

As the shutdown continues, airlines, airport concessionaires and other groups are stepping up with donations, discounts and support.

“Today we were able to help surprise the Sunport’s @TSA with gift cards to local grocery stores and lots of goodies to fill their break room for a few days – all thanks to the wonderful folks with Indivisible Nob Hill and Resist Tyranny Tuesdays,” Albuquerque International Sunport tweeted, along with photos.

And on Thursday, “It was our turn,” St. Louis Lambert International Airport, said in a tweet, “The #stlairport and @HMSHost provided lunches to all @TSA officers this morning and afternoon. We appreciate your huSTLe and dedication. #ThankyouTSA.”https://twitter.com/flystl/status/1086018922267193344

More love for unpaid airport workers

Gov’t shutdown causes closed checkpoints – and pizza – at airports

The partial shutdown of the federal government is taking its toll on airports.

On Saturday, Miami International Airport closed one of its security checkpoints because airport officials were worried there wouldn’t be enough TSA employees on duty to keep all the airport’s checkpoints open.

The airport plans to reopen the checkpoint on Monday morning.

On Sunday afternoon, Houston’s George Bush International Airport (IAH), shut down the TSA checkpoint and ticketing counter in Terminal B. The reason? Concern about staffing issues associated with the partial shutdown of the federal government.

If the government shutdown continues, we can expect more of these checkpoint closures to take place. Passengers will be directed to other checkpoints, where lines will no doubt get very long.

And outpouring of pizza

While long lines are surely frustrating for travelers, there is an outpouring of support for the TSA workers, air traffice controllers and customs and border protection workers who are working without pay.

On Friday, Nashville International Airport sent pizzas to TSA employees at the airport working without pay.

And Canadian air traffic controllers showed their support for their American counterparts by sending pizzas as well.

Elsewhere, there’s a pop-up food pantry for TSA employees at Tampa International Airport.

At Your Gate is offering $10 off and waiving the delivery fee for food delivered to TSA employees on duty at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The offer will expand to other airports where the service is available (San Diego International Airport, New York LaGuardia Terminal B, JFK and MSP) later this week.

Federal workers working without pay at Ontario International Airport were treated to a barbecue on Friday. Food was supplied by the Ontario Reign Hockey team and other groups in town.

On Friday, Pittsburgh International Airport served lunch to federal workers at the airport and plans to do so each Friday until the shutdown is over.

Seattle Tacoma International Airport will hold its second information fair on Monday to help federal employees working without pay learn about short term loans and other resources that may be available to them.

And, as we reported earlier, Hudson Group, which operates shops in many airports, is offering a 20% discount off food, beverages and many store products to all TSA and customs employees until the shutdown is resolved.

OTG, which operates retail outlets and restaurants in 10 airports, will offer TSA employees a 50 percent discount on food and beverage through the duration of the government shutdown too.

If you learn of any other efforts underway, please let us know.




PIT, SEA and airport vendors offer food, resources to help to unpaid TSA, FAA workers.

PIT, SEA airports offer food, resource assistance to unpaid TSA workers

The government shutdown continues and, at airports around the country, TSA and FAA workers are facing their first scheduled pay period with no paycheck.

Yet, they’re expected to keep on working.

To help out those employees and to show support, the Allegheny County Airport Authority is providing free lunches today to the more than 200 TSA and FAA employees who work at Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport.

Bagged lunches will be provided by Bruegger’s Bagels and will include a sandwich, chips, cookie and drink on all shifts for TSA agents and FAA air traffic controllers.

“We have not seen an impact on operations or lines here in Pittsburgh due to the shutdown, ” said Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis, “We are so thankful to the federal employees including TSA, FAA, Customs and others for continuing to work without pay at this critical time.”

The Airport Authority plans to continue providing the lunches on Fridays to federal workers until the government is reopen.

Help in Seattle

On the other side of the country, The Port of Seattle has put together a resource fair at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The goal: to help federal safety and security employees who are continuing to work without pay during the current federal government partial shutdown.

The fair will run Friday, January 11 and Monday, January 14 and include representatives from providers of short-term loans, employee assistance programs and others to make it easier for federal employees to learn about the services that are available and quickly get help.

If the government shutdown continues, the resource fair may be repeated.

“The federal workers who serve critical functions at the Port—as air traffic controllers, security checkpoint screeners, safety inspectors and other vital roles—deserve to be paid in a timely fashion for the work they do,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, “Until our federal government ends this unnecessary and harmful shutdown, we will do everything in our power to help workers in our facilities find the resources they need to pay their bills.”

More help

Nationwide, Hudson Group, which operates shops in many airports, is offering a 20% discount off food, beverages and many store products to all TSA and customs employees starting today and continuing until the shutdown is resolved.

OTG, which operates retail outlets and restaurants in 10 airports, will offer TSA employees a 50 percent discount on food and beverage beginning Saturday, January 12 and continuing through the duration of the government shutdown.

Trend? Another airport invites non-travelers past security

They do it at Pittsburgh International Airport. Now Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has a program to allow non-travelers past the security checkpoint to say goodbye to loved ones at the gate, have a meal or shop.

The new SEA Visitor Pass is a pilot program will run through December 14. But it if works out, non-ticketed airport visitors will be allowed to enter the post-security side of the terminal year-round.

Here’s how the program works:

  •  Entrance to the post-security side of the terminal is allowed from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m and will be limited to 50 visitors each day.
  • Applications will be taken Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Non-ticketed visitors will need to  apply online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they want to enter.
  • TSA will review your application and notify you by midnight the day before if you are approved for entry.
  • Approved visitors will go through the standard security checkpoints, so all security requirements for any traveler will be in place for visitors as well.
  • Meeting travelers at their gate will be restricted to domestic arrivals.

“It’s been 17 years since anyone without a ticket has been able to enjoy areas of the airport beyond security,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, “Yet some of the airport’s best features are there. Great restaurants, local musicians performing in the concourses, and some of the best views of the planes coming and going against the backdrop of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics.”

SEA is my home base airport and I can confirm that there are plenty of great reasons to want to hang out at this airport even if you’re not flying.  In addition to the art collection that includes work by Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson and others, SEA has a robust live music program and some great shops and restaurants. There’s also the newly-launched series of holiday celebrations planned throughout the year, including events to honor Native Heritage Month (November) and of course the upcoming December Season of Light.