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Airport exec says rumors of longer TSA lines 'overblown'

TSA lines at Hector International Airport in Fargo have not been affected by the partial federal government shutdown. Forum file photo

FARGO — Alistair McInerny had to wait two hours at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Seattle airport last Friday.

He said there were only two of the normally six to seven lines open at the airport where he frequently flies to visit family.

However, that seems to be an anomaly as most airports — including Hector International Airport in Fargo — have seen no extra delays at their TSA lines during the partial government shutdown.

What has been happening at apparently only a few airports nationwide is TSA agents calling in and not reporting to work to protest the shutdown.

Hector International Airport Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein said on Tuesday, Jan. 8, that TSA employees have been showing up in Fargo.

"I think this issue has been overblown," he said about the longer lines at airports across the United States.

Nationally, Micheal Bilello, assistant administrator for public affairs, tweeted over the weekend that 99.8 percent of passengers had to wait less than the TSA standard of 30 minutes at checkpoints.

Bilello said they were monitoring the situation closely, but that so far "call-outs" appeared to be minor.

Dobberstein said he talked to about 20 different airports this week and they were reporting normal wait times in the TSA lines.

As for their paychecks, he said the TSA workers eventually will get paid. Of course, the question remains as to when that will happen.

Despite the apparent safety and timeliness of TSA lines, several airlines, however, have written to President Donald Trump about safety concerns during the shutdown as federal oversight may be emerging as a problem.

Of the approximate 800,000 federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown, about 420,000 are considered "essential" and required to report to work. The others are on furlough.

Federal workers are planning a rally in Maryland on Wednesday, Jan. 9, to protest the shutdown as they are also concerned about a scheduled 1.9 percent pay raise.

Forum News Service reporter Ty Filley contributed to this report.