South Florida

The government shutdown may cause delays at MIA. Here’s how

Business as usual at Miami International Airport on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, after the U.S. government shutdown.
Business as usual at Miami International Airport on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, after the U.S. government shutdown. pportal@miamiherald.com

Passengers may experience longer than normal wait times at Miami International Airport due to the government shutdown, officials have warned.

It’s possible that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening lanes could be backed up, despite those federal employees being considered essential or unaffected.

Why then? Overtime pay.

Though TSA employees will still be going to work, they aren’t eligible for overtime during a shutdown — something the airport flow heavily relies on daily, according to Greg Chin, the communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

“The anticipated inability to use federal overtime pay for desired staffing levels could cause wait times during peak periods to increase,” Chin told the Miami Herald Saturday.

He explained: “Let’s say a TSA employee gets to the end of their shift and it’s very busy. Normally that employee can get paid overtime to stay. In this case, their shift would end and they would be sent home.”

Other areas of the airport that may be affected, though less likely, are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lanes — lines passengers stand in for passport control when traveling abroad.

However, CBP employees are eligible for overtime pay because that department has access to county funds.

“Miami-Dade County is one of the few municipalities in the U.S. authorized to reimburse CBP for overtime hours during peak times and when CBP funding is not available to do so,” Chin said, noting that the annual budget is $1.2 million.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, Chin said, there had yet to be any significant delays and operations were running smoothly.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

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