Across the country airports are dealing with a lack of security workers thanks to the government shutdown, but at San Antonio International, it’s business as usual, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
Airport director Russ Handy says there have been one or two Transportation Security Administration workers taking sick days to look for other work, and he credits the travelling public for supporting these government workers, who are on the job but not getting paid.
"I have never seen such an outpouring of support from a community. We've had breakfast tacos delivered, hot dogs and a barbecue lunch," he says.
That, he says, is keeping moral high among the 260 or so government workers at SAT who are affected by the shutdown.
It's a far different story at other Texas airports and nationwide. At Houston's Bush Intercontinental, they had to consolidate security lines because of a lack of agents. And Michael Bilello, the TSA's Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, says the number of security officers calling in sick is increasing."TSA experienced a national rate of 8 percent of unscheduled absences compared to a 3 percent rate one year ago on the same day, Jan. 19, 2018; many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations," he wrote in a release.
In Texas, the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport had the longest wait times to get through security, sitting at about 20-minutes. Atlanta and Seattle's airport had the longest wait in the nation, thanks to a lack of security workers. It took nearly half an hour to get through the checkpoints there.
Handy says he's heard of concerns that, with mounting bills, agents may not have security at the top of mind. It's something they want to make sure doesn't happen.
"I haven't seen that to be concerning in San Antonio, but certainly we cannot ignore the possibility, and that's why it's very important to be out there and talking to people getting the temperature of the water."