Will a Government Shutdown Ground Your Travel Plans… Again?

By: Anneken Tappe · November 15, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Brace for Turbulence

Another partial government shutdown is looming, as the stopgap bill that prevented the last one is due to expire this week. Among other things, this could lead to travel chaos around Thanksgiving weekend — not exactly something to be thankful for.

A shutdown would mean employees of the Transportation Security Administration, and air traffic controllers, would work without pay until funding is approved. That could lead to staffing issues at airports, just in time for record traffic.

Record Travel Season

The TSA projects this year’s Thanksgiving to be the busiest ever for America’s airports, expecting to screen roughly 30 million passengers in total from November 17-28. But there’s a risk for even more stress.

During the five-week shutdown from December 2018 to January 2019, staff shortages at airports led to long lines, as workers called out due to economic hardship.

It looks to be no less busy on the ground for travelers: More than 55 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, according to the American Automobile Association’s projections, making this coming Thanksgiving the third-busiest on the road since 2000.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

If a shutdown goes ahead this week, it could be a bumpy travel weekend ahead. Stay informed and prepared, to get to where you’re going.

That said, with a record number of travelers expected, it’s probably still worth arriving at the airport even earlier than usual this year, just to be safe.

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