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SLC Airport preparing for the possibility of long lines due to shutdown

SALT LAKE CITY – Security lines at airports in other cities keep getting longer and longer due to a high number of TSA agents calling in sick because of the government shutdown.  Officials at Salt Lake International are bracing for impact, just in case the same thing starts to happen here.

So far, there haven’t been mass callouts at Salt Lake International, and that’s partly because restaurants and other businesses are doing what they can to make the TSA feel welcome.

“We’re seeing airlines and airport staff basically hosting lunch for the workers,” according to Airport Spokesperson Nancy Volmer.

She also says if the lack of paychecks last too long, free lunches won’t be enough.  They worry that more TSA agents may be tempted to call in sick if that happens.

“If you miss one paycheck, that’s a struggle.  You miss more than that, it’s a real issue when you have workers who are really struggling to pay bills,” Volmer says.

If the shutdown last through the end of the month, and if a lot of agents don’t show up for work, lines could become especially long when the Sundance Film Festival begins.  Volmer says people come into the city in waves during the festival.

“When people start leaving after the first phase, that would be when we’d be impacted the most,” she says, adding, “That, and President’s Day, I know that’s a ways off, but, that’s one of our biggest days, here.  That’s something we’re keeping an eye on as well.”

If the lines get longer and slower, Volmer says passengers can help by arriving very early.  They recommend people get to the airport two hours before their flight.