If shutdown continues, long lines could become 'routine' for Twin Cities airport

Travelers wait to get through security at the airport.
A long line of travelers waiting to get through security stretches on at Terminal 1 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Friday morning.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

TSA agents and air traffic controllers who help keep the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport running have not been paid in weeks — but that's not why travelers flying from the Twin Cities might encountered long lines Friday, an official said.

Airport officials said they expected a surge of travelers over the holiday weekend. Monday is Martin Luther King Day and many schools have the day off and numerous workplaces provide the day off to employees.

But if the month-long government shutdown isn't resolved soon, airport spokesperson Pat Hogan said the long lines could become routine.

Despite working without pay since before Christmas, Hogan said he remains impressed morale has remained high among airport staffers.

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"People are still showing up to work. They're still smiling. They're still treating customers well. They're still coming in and keeping people safe," Hogan said. "I have a heck of a lot of respect for the fact that they are doing a great job in a time that's very tough for them I'm sure."

As President Trump continues fighting with Democrats over funding the southern border wall, some 1,000 federal workers at the Twin Cities airport are trying to figure out how to work and live without a paycheck.

Hogan suggested some may seek different jobs, unaffected by the government shutdown.

"It's a cash flow issue for a lot of the TSA employees. At some point if it isn't resolved, obviously this is not going to be a sustainable situation," Hogan said. "They're going to have to get jobs so they can afford to pay their mortgage and everything else that they need to live."