America's busiest airport warns of 3-hour waits to clear security, as record government shutdown continues

  • Passengers at America's busiest airport have been warned to leave at least three hours to get through security.
  • Long waits at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport come as part of the record partial government shutdown.
  • TSA agents, who handle security, are not getting paid, and many are not coming to work.
  • An airport spokesman confirmed to Business Insider that it is still advising passengers to allow three hours on Tuesday.
  • Other airports have warned of long waits and fewer flights if the shutdown continues.

America's busiest airport warned passengers to set aside three hours to clear security, as the government shutdown continues to hamper everyday life in the US.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport tweeted on Monday evening that it was experiencing "longer than usual wait times during peak travel" and advised passengers to "give yourself 3 hours to clear security."

TSA agents aren't being paid during the partial government shutdown, and many are not coming to work.

An airport spokesman confirmed to Business Insider on Tuesday morning that their advice is still to leave three hours.

Earlier Monday CNN reporter Omar Jimenez shared video footage of the security queue earlier on Monday, which he said was the "longest security line I have ever seen."

The sped-up footage shows a long line of passengers snaking through the airport. " One passenger told me he’d been waiting over an hour and still had about 30 minutes to go," Jimenez said.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the long lines had caused some passengers to miss flights.

As of early Tuesday morning, the wait times were around 15 minutes, which is not unusual. The airport said the three-hour warning stands despite the quiet start.

Passengers have been showing up hours before their flights to ensure they can take off.

Atlanta's WSB-TV 2 spoke to one, who showed up at 2 a.m. to make sure they got a 7 a.m. flight.

The delays come as an increasing number of TSA agents across the country call in sick.

On Tuesday, 7.6% of TSA agents had unscheduled absences, compared to 3.2% on the same day last year,  TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said. He said that "security standards remain uncompromised at our nation’s airports."

One federal air traffic controller in Atlanta told The Daily Beast: "Everything is a mess here. No one knows who is open, who is working, or what terminals are functioning."

"It’s a total sh-tshow that won’t be solved until the shutdown is over," they said.

The Atlanta airport spokesperson told Business Insider that passengers should look at the airport's website and app for estimates on security queue times.

The shutdown is now the longest in US history, leaving 800,000 government employees unsure when their next paycheck is coming.

The shutdown started December 22 after Democrats refused President Donald Trump's demand that a spending bill to keep the government open includes billions of dollars in funding for a wall along the southern US border.

Bilello, the TSA spokesman, said that agency directors were meeting with airport authorities and airlines across the US to "ensure resources are optimized, efforts to consolidate operations are actively managed, and that the screening and security of the traveling public are never compromised.

He said that Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, as well as George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Washington-Dulles International Airport, are "exercising their contingency plans to uphold aviation security standards."

He also said that TSA would reallocate officers across the country "to meet staffing shortages that cannot be addressed locally."

Related: Furloughed workers protest amid government shutdown:

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Furloughed workers protest amid government shutdown
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Furloughed workers protest amid government shutdown
Union workers demonstrate in front of the White House against the government shutdown on January 10, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump headed Thursday to the US-Mexico border to push his demand for a wall, a day after he walked out of negotiations with Democrats in a political crisis paralyzing the government. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Union members and Internal Revenue Service workers rally outside an IRS Service Center to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
IRS worker Christine Helquist joins a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
IRS worker Angela Gran, center, and others participate in a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Cheryl Monroe, right, a Food and Drug Administration employee, and Bertrice Sanders, a Social Security Administration employee, rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago. The partial government shutdown continues to drag on with hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job or working without pay as the border wall fight persists. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
People gather during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People gather during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Furloughed TSA worker Marae Persson shows participates in a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Furloughed National Park Service ranger Kathryn Gilson, center, listens as fellow furloughed ranger Sean Ghazala, left, speaks to the media, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, during a press conference and rally at Staten Island's La Colmena Center in New York. Ghazala is based at Manhattan's African Burial Ground, and Gilson works at Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park encompassing wetlands surrounding New York city and parts of New Jersey's coastline. Gilson says she is home "bouncing off the walls" and worrying about paying her bills and student loan. Staten Island is a largely Republican borough of New York city, but Democrat Max Rose recently defeated his Republican opponent in the 2018 congressional elections. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Union members and other federal employees protest the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Union members protest the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Union members and other federal employees stop in front of the White House in Washington during a rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. . (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A demonstrator holds a 'Stop The Shutdown' sign during a rally with union members and federal employees to end the partial government shutdown outside the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The partial government shutdown entered its 20th day today as its impact is more widely felt with about 800,000 federal workers who will miss their paychecks on Friday. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Union workers demonstrate in front of the White House against the government shutdown on January 10, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump headed Thursday to the US-Mexico border to push his demand for a wall, a day after he walked out of negotiations with Democrats in a political crisis paralyzing the government. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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Some airports have been sharing their short security lines in response. Washington's Dulles airport shared a photo of short lines and said it has "minimal wait times."

 But other airports have warned that conditions could worsen if the shutdown continues.

Josh Waggener, president of Denver's National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said on Monday that Denver International Airport could face longer lines and fewer flights, according to the local Reporter Herald.

As well as passengers being affected, a lack of air traffic control staff could also hold up flights.

"We were already at a 30-year low for air traffic controllers before the shutdown," he said.

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