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Last Updated On: 10/1/2013

U.S. Shutdown Impact

The $64,000 dollar question for travelers across America today is the impact of the government shutdown on air travel.

Will the shutdown mean more headaches for harried travelers groaning under the burden of long security lines, invasive pat-downs and endless baggage fees?
 
No!

For the most part, travelers should not see a significant impact on their air travel plans.

At least, it won't be any worse than pre-shutdown for flyers.

No Major Delays

When we checked the Federal Aviation Administration web site around 1PM today, there was no significant impact on arrivals or departures at most major U.S. airports.

Airports in the NYC area (JFK, LGA, EWR) , Washington DC (IAD and BWI), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), Miami (MIA), Chicago (ORD, MDW) and across the U.S. showed a delay of 15 minutes for both arrivals and departures.

A delay of 15-minutes is nothing out of the ordinary.

Little Impact

There are five reasons why the current shutdown will not inconvenience travelers in any big way:

* Homeland Security employees are exempt from the shutdown and continue to work across the country including at all the airports. So you can expect to see screeners continue to do their jobs.

* Federal air traffic controllers are also exempt from the shut down as they are considered essential workers.

* Majority of Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will be on the job.

* Airline employees including pilots, cabin crew and maintenance workers are in the private sector and continue to work.

* U.S. State Department will continue to process visa applications from foreigners and applications from Americans for passport services. However, there might be delays if the visa and passport processing centers are housed in federal buildings that have been shut down.

However, some of the government web sites may not provide you with up to date information.

For instance, the Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration web sites caution visitors on their home page:

"Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed. This website was last updated on September 30, 2013 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted. As such, information on this website may not be up to date."

As always when you are confronted with unusual circumstances like shutdowns or bad weather, make sure you leave extra time for unanticipated events.