Airports are already backing up, thanks to sequester

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano says cuts to workers' hours and overtime are delaying flights at major US hubs.

By Jason Notte Mar 4, 2013 3:20PM
Image: Airport check-in (© Digital Vision/Getty Images/Getty Images)If you're sitting in an airport security line reading this while waiting even longer for a flight to take off, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has given you full permission to blame the sequester for your delay.


Thanks to the across-the-board budget cuts that the government has shown no will to prevent, Napolitano says airports like Chicago's O'Hare and Los Angeles International are already experiencing backups that will only get worse. Reuters reports that the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection agencies, which are both part of Napolitano's Homeland Security Department, are requiring employees to take unpaid furlough days and forgo overtime just to make ends meet.


Napolitano says she expects delays will only worsen as the week progresses.But they'll have to get pretty awful for passengers at the nation's largest airports to notice. O'Hare alone handled 22.4 million passengers in 2011, which was the last year for which the Department of Transportation had statistics available. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International that number jumps to 33 million.


All those passengers better start getting accustomed to not reaching their destination on time. The on-time arrival performance of the nation's largest airlines jumped from 73% in 2007 to almost 80% in 2011, but it was well below the 82.1% mark set in 2002. Meanwhile, the percentage of delays caused by airport volume soared from 8% in 1999 to 16% two years ago, which was still better than the 22% of delays caused by heavy traffic in 2009.


If the sequester's staffing cuts and line slowdowns affect on-time departures as a result, it won't exactly ruin airlines' recent record. Late departures have risen from less than 13% of all delays and cancellations a decade ago to more than 17% in 2011. They'd have to rise higher than 21% to break the industry record set in 2007.


Considering how recent airline mergers involving United (UAL), Continental, Southwest (LUV) and Airtran have already contributed to delays -- which the proposed merger of US Airways (LCC) and American (AAMRQ) would only increase -- air passengers should just break out a good book and factor in a few extra hours of travel time. They're not going anywhere for a while.


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15Comments
Mar 4, 2013 4:24PM
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This is a clear case of engineering the cuts to cause the most disruption to advance an agenda.  This is the same reason a school board threatens to cut the football team if the school budget does not pass.  It is manipulative and dishonest and the media is once again playing their complicit role
Mar 4, 2013 5:23PM
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I think cutting Legislator staff by 50%, reducing the management head count by 20%. That should make up the bulk of the money and no one would miss it.
Mar 4, 2013 7:50PM
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Long lines at airports have begun because of of the sequester? It hasn't started yet. What does that tell you about the people who say things like that? Those people don't know what is going on and yet they are in charge.
Mar 4, 2013 6:04PM
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Amazing. Out of all the things to get noticed by the cuts effects the common americans than the politicians and the rich. And now Obama is either going to cave in and give the republicans what they want by taking away the helpful programs just to get them back at the table? All of this is bull. Why take away jobs that actually are helpful and proven instead of taking away from our overly payed government offiicials still makes no sense.

 

I really think our governmwnt should do like "undercover boss" and send officials out to live like middle class and poor so that they can see how stupid most of they're ideas REALLY are

Mar 4, 2013 4:20PM
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Novel concept, Lay off the 75% of the TSA staff that work in DC that push paper and there won't be any delay's. The govermant things were stupid get it . Elect anyone other than those that are in office and free america.
Mar 4, 2013 10:10PM
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LET ME JUST SAY THIS.....I WORK WITH 12 WOMEN, 8 HAVE CHILDREN, 2 OF THOSE WOMEN ARE OLDER AND SUPPORT THEIR TEENS WITH HELP OF THEIR X-HUSBANDS, 1 STRUGGLES TO RAISE 2 YOUNGER CHILDREN ON HER OWN, OUT OF THE OTHER  5 GIRLS WITH CHILDREN 4 OF THEM ARE LIVING WITH THEIR "BABY DADDY" SO THEY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FOOD STAMPS, FREE MEDICAL CARE, FREE DIAPERS, FORMULA, DAYCARE ETC. THEY GO DOWN TO "CHILDREN'S SERVICES" AND ARE HANDED THINGS FREE, THEY CLAIM THEY DON'T KNOW WHO THE BABY DADDY IS OR AS ONE GIRL TOLD ME .....HE SWAM BACK TO MEXICO AFTER THE THIRD WAS BORN ! MEANWHILE HE WORKS FULLTIME AS A ROOFER OFF THE BOOKS AND SHE SHOPS VICTORIA'S SECRET AND DILLARDS. i HAVE TO SHOP AT WALMART AND GOODWILL BECAUSE I'M SUPPORTING ALL THESE KIDS. yOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID WITH HER 3,500 TAX REFUND? SHE, TOOK HER BABIES' DADDY AND THE 3 KIDS TO DISNEYLAND AND STAYED AT ONE OF THE RESORTS FOR A WHOLE WEEK. YA GOTTA LOVE IT AND YET WE HAVE NO CLUE WHY WERE 6 TRILLION IN DEBT

Mar 4, 2013 8:27PM
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Typical fear mongering lies from Napolitano and DHS to justify the unemployable TSA misfits who molest 3 year old girls and steal from our bags. The UK telegraph and Minnesota Public Radio both reported that both O’Hare and LAX airports stated that there were no security delays today, again exposing Napolitano as the liar she has proven to be in the past.

So what if the lines are three hours instead of two? The TSA apologists can apply Napolitano’s advice to those who object to their groping policies, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly”.

Maybe if DHS stopped buying billions of rounds of ammunition and 2,700 tanks to be used on inner city citizens they’d have a budget surplus and could reduce their budget.

DHS needs to be severely downsized and TSA replaced with local police to handle airport security. By putting trained local law enforcement professionals in charge of airport security, service will improve, costs lowered and the crime rate from baggage and checkpoint theft greatly reduced.


Mar 5, 2013 4:59PM
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Why is it the FAA is saying there has been NO difference at the airports ???? and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano say's there are loooonnnngggg lines already at all of the major air ports where did she get her FACTS or evidently the LACK of facts and is using FABRICATED information.....

 

I just don't get it any more.....there is just NO ONE you can trust in this administration anymore...

Mar 5, 2013 12:52PM
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Why are TSA agents earning 40k a year anyway. Fire the DHS, FCC, EPA, TSA and all of the DOD contractors and make a difference how much money can be saved. Reducing unemployment benefits by 10% is a joke and only the poor people who voted for Obummer will face the brunt of this manufactured fiscial crisis. The DUMocrats were in power for how long and when the GOP got back in control then all of a sudden there is a crisis I think not
Mar 5, 2013 3:07PM
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Lies,

you have to give 30 day notice before any employee would be either laid off or given un paid time off.

 

Mar 5, 2013 2:52PM
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My neighbor signed up for the TSA and he spent weeks in high class hotels doing screening before he was hired at 38k/year. His first assignment was a local airport and he did a great job that they promoted him to another airport to supervise the TSA employees there. there were two flights a day and 4 TSA agents on staff to search maybe 30 people a day. He was making over 45k for doing this impossible task. He finally quit this job as he was disgusted with the petty paperwork.  I had to wonder what those other 4 TSA employees at that airport was paid.
Mar 5, 2013 10:09AM
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And Someone....of a clear case of pre-engineering...You are absolutely correct...IMO
Mar 5, 2013 10:08AM
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Screeners and TSA'ers have been inept since DAY ONE...

 

It's what happens when you hire Rent-a-Cops, that can't make it, as a rent-a-cop..

Mar 5, 2013 9:56PM
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Oh and we are suppose to believe this; what- are we suppose to be dumb.  Why do they feel that they need to lie.  Besides long lines at the airports have existed for years.  When I used to fly for business I used to take the first flight out and get to the airport three hours early just because I did not want to put up with the long lines.  The government has always lied about everything, but more so the current administration and it will continue. 
Mar 7, 2013 11:52PM
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you can bitch all you want and will make no difference.  nobody cares what you think.
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