So Many TSA Screeners are Calling in Sick Miami Will Be Closing Concourse G Early

During the government shutdown most employees are furloughed. TSA screeners, however, are supposed to work. They won’t be paid until funding is restored.

Even regular critics of TSA have a good deal of sympathy. While the agency provides far more security theater than actual security, that’s hardly the fault of front line screeners. They have to work, aren’t highly paid, and many live paycheck to paycheck. There have even been stories reminding travelers that screeners can’t accept tips (i.e. bribes, you don’t want screeners accepting those since you never know whether the person giving them is Al Qaeda). People want to take up collections for these folks.

Screeners have been calling out sick at a higher rate than normal with what’s being referred to as ‘blue flu’ (screeners wear blue uniforms). Across the board it’s about a one-third increase, with screeners not wanting to work without getting paid, even though have not yet missed a paycheck and they’ll be paid later for the work they do now.

In Miami screeners are calling out at double the normal rate so there aren’t enough people to staff all of the checkpoints.

Miami International Airport will close a terminal early for three days because of a shortage of Transportation Security Administration screeners, airport spokesman Greg Chin said Thursday.

The security checkpoints in terminal G will be closed after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Concourge G largely serves United, Frontier, Sun Country, and Bahamasair from its 15 gates. It’s the only original 1959 concourse that largely remains in its original form, with the most recent modifications taking place nearly 50 years ago.

Afternoon flights will be moved to other concourses at the airport, likely generating confusion for departing passengers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Did Americans forget the difference between beeing sick, and not going to work?

    I’m wondering what sort of country this has become.

  2. I don’t understand this situation. I do understand the frustration of being asked to work and not getting paid right away but based on my years of government work (I’ve worked in the federal government for years as well as in private industry).

    1. They will eventually get paid. So it isn’t as if they are working and won’t be compensated.
    2. Government employees get sick leave and it can be accumulated and there is no restriction as to how much you can get (i.e., you never risk losing it, and it can be applied to increase your retirement pay).

    So by calling out sick all you are doing is using up your sick leave. You aren’t getting something extra. I supposed you are showing people how annoyed you are with the government shutdown but I think the majority of people are also annoyed with it.

    The only benefit to calling out sick would be if the person was working at a second job and was collecting two pay checks (one when they are eventually paid after the government opens and one at a second job). And I’m not sure if that is even legal.

    So this just seems pointless. As if TSA employees aren’t disliked enough, this isn’t helping.

  3. The lack of human empathy and the variety of ignorance on display on this comment thread makes me embarrassed to be American (and for the Brit).

    These people are not getting paid today and probably don’t have money for the basics right now. Somehow you expect them to put up their own money for gas, childcare, etc. so that people like us won’t be inconvenienced? Would you go to work in that situation?

    I fly 200k miles a year and I dislike the TSA as much as anyone but it wasn’t these people’s fault. It’s the fault of the minority of Americans with the stupidity and venality to put this concussed toddler of a president into office.

    Stick your head out of your bubble for a minute and try to think like a decent human being for once.

  4. @rich,

    Do the math and post it here.

    $39,000 annual pay, which is $3,250 per month and $1,625 per paycheck.

    Now find a place to live in the NYC or Miami area: how much of that paycheck is left?

    Now subtract monthly electric, water, trash utilities: how much of that paycheck left?

    Next price out groceries for a month of 3-meals-a-day: now how much of that paycheck is left?

    Subtract reasonable insurance costs for home owners/renters etc. How much of that paycheck is left?

    Finally, calculate the cost of getting to and from the airport including either the monthly cost of public transit or car, gas, and insurance payments.

    How much is left for the typical TSA agent to now have to keep paying all of those bills without getting todays paycheck? How many weeks or months can they survive off of that leftover without new funds coming in or reducing expenses?

    Cutting out the transportation to/from work before missing that check banks money for use when today’s check doesn’t come.

  5. @rich: your point about these workers can use that time do other things to earn money immediately, eg, labor, uber, etc, is the most likely reason these workers are calling off. How is it illegal to have multiple jobs?

  6. @AndrewontheRoad, don’t forget the cost of daycare/childcare, which probably tips the scale for those that are calling in sick. If you have even one child, never mind 2 or 3, it probably makes no sense to go in to work until you can get paid.
    Seems bizarre to me that the government has a process to decide who is an essential government employee but no process to pay them.

  7. There is nothing requiring airports to use TSA for security. Some airports such as San Francisco have already partially privatized their security.

    Way past time to abolish this do nothing, giant waste of resources organization.

  8. @Taha,

    People occupying certain positions, including law enforcement and security, may be directed not to moonlight, especially if a side hustle creates a conflict of interest.

    And what these jokers are doing is indeed self defeating. They are going to get paid:

    And they are better off not depleting their sick leave balances just because they are in a snit.

    Now that it is clear that they will get paid, assuming these folks are already conscientious renters/mortgagees, landlords will not commence eviction proceedings nor will banks institute foreclosure proceedings – its just too expensive when a renter or mortagee is encountering a mere delay in a paycheck.

    Thousands of workers are worse off and subject to layoff when the business cycle runs dry. Save the sympathy for them.

  9. @jfhscott

    These “jokers” hear Trump saying the shutdown could last months.

    They need cash NOW, not in April. They are taking up jobs with Uber, Grubhub, etc. Its the most rational and prudent option.

    Bill collectors don’t wait.

  10. @JJJ

    Bill collectors do wait:

    For all of the stories that are swirling around inside the beltway about people not being able to pay their rent, I’ve heard no discussion of evictions. Why? Well when the salary is merely deferred, and an otherwise dependable tenant is merely going to be late to pay, no sane landlord will engage in eviction proceedings that can take months. The rational business decision is to work with the tenant.

    These screeners are NOT similarly situated to the millions of taxpayers whose livelihood and paycheck is a layoff away from getting permanently derailed. Rather, they have positions which, given skills required provide pretty good wages and fantastic fringe benefits, including 104 hours of sick leave per year.

    Yeah, the risk of a shutdown leading to delay in paychecks is disruptive. But it is the bitter that comes with the sweet of a federal job. And it is far better than the risks millions of taxpayers are a layoff away from the dole face.

  11. @Farnorthtrader

    “don’t forget the cost of daycare/childcare, which probably tips the scale for those that are calling in sick. If you have even one child, never mind 2 or 3”

    No kids of my own, but in my experience co workers with one child, never mind 2 or 3 (who no doubt get sick, requiring parental sick leave) are the very people who need to preserve their leave, not use it in a snit.

  12. Two flights this week and lines were the shorter than usual. Less than five min in precheck to clear. Historically, every shutdown resulted in 100% backpay eventhough folks in most cases weren’t required to show up (aka “free” vacation) also, last shutdown most banks announced they would waive and late penalties for mortgages. Don’t recall seeing that yet. Could the feds NOT do as they have in the past? Sure BUT if someone is scared I will personally advance that (as will a giant PE firm) for a modest fee. There was a NPR segment two days ago talking about how TSA agents are likely to apply for other jobs and take their Skills elsewhere….

  13. I know that this probably can’t happen for some reason, but could the airlines cover the cost of TSA and then they could be reimbursed by the government once the shutdown ends? Seems that the airlines stand to lose the most outside of the folks that are not being paid.

  14. If anything, this shutdown reminds us of the precarious state of a vast majority of Americans’ finances – after all, only one paycheck has been missed.

    I wonder if those “big tech” gig economy platforms are secretly happy about this potential upsurge in “[role] partners?”

  15. Good for them! The more who walk off the job without pay the more pressure gets put on the madman. It’s amazing more people aren’t out in the street over this insanity.

  16. @Steven M: I totally agree. I am ready to be on the streets about all of this. However, my view is that we have 800,000 “non essential” employees who frankly have not disrupted any of our lives at all by not punching into their job. That is the really the issue. Shut it down forever until people want to start looking out for the interests of their oen country instead of their own stupid political party (NOTE: I have no political party).

  17. @jfhscott, you are right, those parents are the ones that will likely need the sick time later on, but in the meantime, the daycare will either have to be paid or they will have to keep their children at home and the immediate need to conserve cash is likely outweighing the medium term need for sick leave. Assuming the pay is approximately $39,000 as noted above, or $3250/month, average daycare of $1250/month (for just one child) comprises a very large part of that income, so if it is not coming in, it makes sense to avoid something that costs a third of your income if you possibly can. It is perfectly logical for them to save the cost of daycare now, when they have no income coming in, and deal with the potential for one or two missed days of pay in future months. It is not a snit, it is a logical solution to a difficult situation that is not of their making.

  18. This is a no-news weekend for me. Maybe I will try football. Go Nick Foles (way underdog).

    This weekend news (left wing, right wing does not matter) will be 24/7 on the shutdown, with various talking heads (sort of like Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter, although I think Nick had a better brain) offering their opinions on the shut down.

    Let me summarize, single fact: “there is a shutdown about wall funding” then no fact zone: opinion nonsense opinion, I sincerely believe more opinion, quote opinion, this expert says opinion and so on…. Hey, those maggots in Kuala Lumpur in another story here sound way more interesting.

  19. Government workers has it made they never get laid off and they sure don’t need it union.

    If the union care so much about the workers they are given a loan,

    The money was approved under Obama so what’s the difference I just want to political game we need a door, like every home needs s door..

    Our economy is doing great people are working, both parties need to work together and quit playing these games .

  20. Just start paying them based on how many terrorist they stop and the pay would be much less…. just saying, they only start scanning for items after a threat has been on board. Also, there hasn’t been any that have called in sick so I’m sure they know they will be paid. Its just to provoke the less informed people so they’ll be outraged.

  21. If you are working for the TSA and not earning enough to live on, whose fault is that? Get an education and get a real job. Thank God our soldiers, sailors and airmen don’t have the same whiny little bitch mentality.

    There’s a perfectly good reason why starting in grade school they teach you math and later on they drum into your pointy little noggin the importance of saving for a rainy day. This should be especially important for those who work in government and are subject to periodic political government shutdowns.

  22. @JustaloadofCrap deriding others education when she comes with gems like “earn your English” “bowell” and “isle 3” is so hilarious
    Btw dear unhygienic one, you could share some of your ill gotten gains from the Saudi’s with them. hahahahahaha

  23. @747naked: Poor little Apu, did somebody step on your itty bitty ego? Or maybe your water buffalo left you alone and unloved?

  24. Yaaaawn! The same boring lines from the purveyor of poo, the Countess of Crab Lice, @JustaCuckold JC

  25. Wow! Extra chromosome. Still stuck on that for the last 6 months?
    It appears @JungliCow reached the end of her “insult” book and is back to page one. Hahahahaha

  26. Still the same boring “Swami, Apu, third chromosome, maxi pad” nonsense. These Nazis are so boring.
    PS No one apart from the kinky Saudi’s you know wants to come near you, dear zookeeper of crab live. @JC

  27. @747naked: Apu, why is your name boring? You think the name your mother gave you, Apu, is nonsense? Are you ashamed of being a Swami? Embarrassed by wearing a turban? Painting dots on your head? Well, it’s perfectly understandable. You are subhuman after all.

    But there is good news, Apu. Your water buffalo loves you. He doesn’t realize you are a subhuman turd.

    Oh, Einstein, “extra chromosome” isn’t the same as “third chromosome”. Glad to see you are honest, though, and admit to only having three. You are the classic definition — scientifically proven — subhuman, Apu. The gene pool breathes a sigh of relief knowing you cannot procreate.

  28. She is so deranged
    It is quite strange
    That she can’t remember
    Using extra chromosome herself
    You can’t even come up with a new line LOL
    You’re the perfect poster girl for why not to do drugs! Hahahaha

  29. @747naked: Apu, I used “extra chromosome”, but you read it as “third”.

    But maybe you are right. It should be third. Since you are subhuman it’s unlikely you have more than three chromosomes.

    Shave that eyebrow, coolie!

  30. @747naked: I use “extra chromosome” to describe you. You, Apu, are too busy loving your water buffalo to read correctly and think it’s “third”.

    But maybe you are right. Since you are subhuman, Apu, it’s unlikely you have more than three chromosomes.

    Shave that eyebrow, swami!

  31. “Did Americans forget the difference between being sick, and not going to work? I’m wondering what sort of country this has become.”

    – Hard to fault people who have not been paid for the last three weeks of work for being pissed, especially when there has been ZERO progress in washington. Many of these people don’t have savings so they are going to default on bill payments. There is NO reason for this shutdown. Its politics and nothing else on all sides. They could have kept the agencies open until February while negotiations continued.

  32. @747naked: Apu, all those years in a ShitholeIndian third grade and you still haven’t learned.

    You are supposed to say “Thank you, come again” when you end your drivel.

    But considering the coolie rapist that you are, “Goodybe, I need to go because my water buffalo wants to shag me” is also acceptable.

    Pick one, Apu.

  33. @747naked: Apu, WTF is a “condim”?

    Seriously, swami, loosen up the turban before another one of your brain cells dies. Your water buffalo will never respect you when he is smarter than you.

  34. You’re still boring JC with the same old crap. Although you did repeat rapist after 3 months. So that was (slightly) new.
    However bad my English may or may not be, it’s hilarious that your “great education” has failed you. Now go earn your English on Isle 3. Hahahaha

  35. @JC why don’t you clean up that Saudi semen from your bum before worrying about others? Hahahahahaha

  36. @747naked: Sorry, Swami, but no Saudis.

    No go back and try to impregnate your water buffalo. Mommy will be proud of you, Apu.

  37. Awww ickle @JustaCrow is butthurt that her connection to the Saudis is known. Shocking that “patriots” like her parrot Saudi talk lines because they will stop earning money

  38. @747naked: Again “ickle”? Apu, certainly you mean tickle … as in you tickle your water buffalo’s balls. Or your water buffalo tickles your butthole when he rams you.

    Of then again perhaps you mean dickle … as in your tiny little dick. No wonder your water buffalo feels frustrated.

    Or popsicle … your code word for your water buffalo’s dick. Or your daddy’s.

    Or icicle … what you sit on to clean out the water buffalo cum from your asshole.

    Come on coolie, don’t be embarrassed. Let it out. Be a man for once.

  39. Oooh. Such a long post by the Saudi Parrot, the great @JustaConcubine
    What’s a dickle by the way? It’s not a word in the English language. But then one who has earned her English wouldn’t know that. Lol

  40. Btw, you did share another logical inconsistency. Namely you claim that I hump my water buffalo. Then you claim that I clean said buffalos cum from my ass.
    Wouldn’t that mean that the buffalo is humping me?
    Please advise O @JustaConfusednazi

  41. @747naked: Apu, of course you would think it logically inconsistent, but then again you are an idiot subhuman from ShitholeIndia.

    Some days you root the water buffalo, and some days the water buffalo does you. It’s safe to say you take it up the Hershey Highway more often than your water buffalo. Look at you when you ride on the roof of your lovely ShitholeIndian trains. Your eyebrow flapping in the breeze, using two hands to make sure your turban doesn’t blow away … and you are still held fast to the roof by the incredible suction your butthurt manhole-sized butthole has.

    Thank your water buffalo for that very necessary ShitholeIndian ability, Apu.

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