Miami Airport shuts terminal this weekend due to TSA screener shortage

Miami International Airport is shutting down one of its terminals for parts of this weekend because of a shortage of available screeners at security checkpoints.

“As a precautionary measure due to uncertainties created by the lapse in federal government funding, some passengers at Miami International Airport may experience changes to their security checkpoint and departure gate this weekend,” the airport announced on its website.

This includes the planned shutdown of Concourse G after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The terminal and its 15 gates will reopen each morning.

Concourse G, which serves several airlines including United, will have its flights relocated to either Concourse F or Concourse H.

“We do not expect any operational impact as we have arranged to fully utilize alternate gates for flights originally scheduled out of Terminal G,” a United Airlines representative said in a statement to Business Insider.

Miami International Airport was not immediately available for comment.

An airport spokesman, Greg Chin, however, told the Miami Herald on Thursday that federal screeners were calling in sick at “double the normal rate for Miami” and that managers of the Transportation Security Administration, which runs the checkpoint security, weren’t sure whether they’d be able to operate all of the airport’s checkpoints at normal hours.

Read more: TSA employees working unpaid because of the government shutdown are quitting — and this could create a ‘massive security risk’ for travelers.

“In an effort to optimize resources without degrading screening and security effectiveness, where it is feasible, TSA is working with key stakeholders and industry partners, and may explore efforts to consolidate officers and operations,” a TSA representative told Business Insider in a statement.

The person added that the TSA experienced a 5.1% unscheduled call-out rate on Thursday, up from 3.3% on the same day in 2018.

The TSA workers’ union president, Hydrick Thomas, has said workers are calling out at higher rates because of financial hardship.

“TSA employees aren’t calling out intentionally,” Thomas told Business Insider last week. “They are calling out because they don’t have the funds to make it work.”

TSA screeners are among the federal employees who have been working unpaid since the US government shutdown began on December 22. Even though the workers are eligible to receive back pay once the shutdown is over, many live paycheck to paycheck and are suffering financially.

Read more: Air-traffic controllers working unpaid during the government shutdown are posting their $0 pay stubs on Twitter

“Every day I’m getting calls from my members about their extreme financial hardships and need for a paycheck,” Thomas said in a post on the union’s website. “Some of them have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown.

“The loss of officers, while we’re already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don’t have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires.”

Unions, aviation trade groups, and politicians from both sides of the aisle held a rally in Washington, DC, on Thursday urging political leaders to bring the shutdown to an end.