Security checkpoint at BWI reopens following closure due to 'excessive' number of TSA agents calling out of work

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Travelers go through security screening at BWI Airport in a 2017 file photo.

Security Checkpoint A at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport reopened Tuesday following its closure over the weekend due to “excessive call-outs” by Transportation Security Administration agents, who have been unpaid because of the federal government shutdown, an airport spokesman said.

The security checkpoint, near the Southwest Airlines ticketing kiosks, reopened Tuesday morning as normal, said airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. The screening area was closed to passengers Saturday evening and Sunday and briefly reopened Monday, before closing again.


With about 7.5 percent of agents calling out of work nationwide, the maximum standard wait time at the airport Monday was 36 minutes — longer than the national average of a half-hour, the agency said. The maximum TSA Pre-Check wait time was 13 minutes.

“Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations,” the TSA said in a statement.


While the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend doesn’t typically see as many travelers as other holiday weekends, the TSA screened about 2.2 million passengers across the country Monday; nearly all waited less than 30 minutes.

The TSA called the checkpoint’s closure a “contingency plan” in collaboration with airport authorities and servicing airlines because excessive numbers of agents had called out of work.

Many federal employees, including TSA agents, have not received a paycheck in several weeks because of the government shutdown, which has become the longest ever in United States history.

Passengers were encouraged to arrive early for evening flights and to contact the airport and airlines for updates.

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More than 3,000 airport screeners missed work Sunday, bringing the absence rate to 10 percent, compared to 3.1 percent on the comparable Sunday a year ago. That topped the previous high of 8 percent Saturday.

TSA has 51,000 screeners, and a spokesman said about 33,000 work on any given day.