Tourism & Cruises

Concourse G closes at Miami International Airport as federal government shutdown drags on

Because of the TSA shortage during the government shutdown, MIA on Saturday closes terminal

Miami International Airport’s Concourse G closed at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday — 15 minutes earlier than planned — as the federal government remained shut down for a 22nd day, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
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Miami International Airport’s Concourse G closed at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday — 15 minutes earlier than planned — as the federal government remained shut down for a 22nd day, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Miami International Airport’s Concourse G closed at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday — 15 minutes earlier than planned — as the federal government remained shut down for a 22nd day, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The airport was forced to shutter the concourse for the afternoon due to a shortage of Transportation Safety Administration officers, who have been working without pay for three weeks and are missing more shifts as the shutdown drags on.

The closure allowed the airport to send TSA workers to busier checkpoints.

Concourse G — used by United, Bahamasair, Aruba Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Sun Country — is the least busiest of the terminals; around 12 planes usually fly out of G after 1 p.m., making up just 3 percent of the roughly 450 flights from MIA on a typical day.

As 1 p.m. approached on Saturday, TSA agents turned passengers away from Concourse G’s checkpoint and told them to head to F or H. At 12:45 p.m., TSA agents spread large, red “NO ENTRY” signs across the metal detectors, and filed out of the concourse. The inside of the concourse looked deserted. Security lines at F and H checkpoints remained normal despite the extra foot traffic.

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Concourse G will reopen for morning flights on Sunday. It will close again at 1 p.m. Sunday and then reopen for morning flights Monday. At that point, the airport’s directors will decide whether to fully open Concourse G during the week or keep it partially closed. Airport spokesperson Greg Chin said if more TSA agents continue to miss work, MIA may be forced to close a security checkpoint at concourses J or D, which could mean more significant disruptions.

While Concourse G is closed, so are its restaurants and shops. Workers at those shops are being relocated to work in other areas of the airport temporarily. Those businesses may have to cut shifts for workers if the concourse remains closed through the week, as a ripple effect of the chaos in Washington D.C.

Like other federal workers considered essential, TSA screeners have been working without pay throughout a shutdown that began Dec. 22.

President Donald Trump continues to demand Congress sign off on $5 billion for a wall on the southern border as part of the legislative package needed to fund parts of the government for another year. Congressional Democrats aren’t budging on their opposition to the wall. On Friday, federal workers, including MIA TSA agents, missed their first paychecks.

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Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.

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