Absences among USA airport screeners jump as shutdown drags on

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"In 2015, the acting administrator for the TSA was reassigned after a report found that airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons in almost every test that an undercover team conducted at dozens of airports".

But the impact of those absences on fliers and airport security has been hotly debated.

At JAX on Tuesday, News4Jax observed short lines at security and was told by travelers at the airport that things have been going smoothly.

On Jan. 3, a passenger was able to fly from Atlanta to Tokyo with a gun that TSA screeners missed. The wait for global flights out of the airport, however, was just 15 to 30 minutes, according to its website.

Gregory, the TSA spokesman said that was not a TSA decision. "We thank TSA officers for their resilience and diligence, and we thank industry and the public for their continued acts of kindness and support".

Airport officials, however, warn that the situation could get much worse if the shutdown isn't resolved soon.

"TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm", the agency said.

Callers to the Transportation Security Administration's media relations line Monday heard a recorded message saying employees were unable to answer phone calls due to a lapse in federal funding.

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TSA workers have been calling in sick in increasing numbers over the past week at some airports.

Some aid groups are also stepping up to provide groceries and other necessities to cash-strapped security screeners.

Tampa International Airport teamed up with Feeding Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast to set up a food bank on Monday.

Fine says they made the decision after feeling helpless about the shutdown. He said he was asking local food banks if they can help the workers. "People are dedicated to their jobs", Hauck said. "We need them to keep the airport running".

The executive director of the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority, which operates Hancock International Airport is stepping down.

"You just got to go with it and not stress about it and know that our government will take care of what needs to be taken care of", said Deborah Galvin, who was flying out of JAX.

Evidently and justifiably, morale is low for these workers amid the shutdown.

TSA administrator David Pekoske said on Friday via Twitter that the agency's screening officers will receive a $500 bonus.

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