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Armed flier boards Delta jet amid govt. shutdown

Shutdown still impacting TSA, FAA staffers

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confiscates literally thousands of weapons a year from travellers at airports across America. 


But amid the current US government shutdown, which has significantly affected staffing at the TSA, one traveller managed to get a gun past security. Not that they were trying. 


After boarding their Delta Air Lines Tokyo Narita-bound flight at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, the passenger realised they had forgotten about the firearm in their carry-on bag and handed it in, the airline told CNN


Image AP/John Bazemore


According to the TSA, the incident occured when “standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3".


Thanks to the government shutdown, TSA staff have been asked to work essentially without pay, resulting in hundreds of TSA agents calling in sick at some of America’s busiest airports, CNN reported. 


However, the security body denies that the shutdown had anything to do with this security lapse.


"The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false," TSA said. 


"The national unscheduled absence rate of TSA staff on Thursday, January 3, 2019, was 4.8% compared to 6.3% last year, Thursday, January 4, 2018. 


It added that it would "hold those responsible appropriately accountable.


Meanwhile, the shutdown continues to disrupt travel at America’s biggest airports, as long security lines and closed terminals test the patience of passengers. 


According to TIME, the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta, told fliers to arrive three hours before flights as waiting times grew to over an hour.


Elsewhere, a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport was closed for several hours last weekend, while Chicago O’Hare Airport said it had “contingency plans” should the problems get worse.


At Houston’s George Bush International Airport, a spokesperson said a terminal was closed due to “staffing issues”, but airport wait times had been “pretty minor”.


Along with TSA staff, the shutdown has impacted the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), with around 3,300 safety workers sidelined.


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 15 January 2019

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