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"Mismanagement" blamed for long wait times at LaGuardia amid shutdown

Shutdown impacts airport wait times

A "mismanagement of resources" was to blame for the longest wait times for security screening in the country at New York City's LaGuardia Airport on Sunday, according to a senior Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official briefed on the situation. The wait times peaked at 52 minutes at standard security lanes, fueling frustration among passengers and raising concerns about whether the government shutdown could lead to longer lines at the nation's airports.

Sunday, the final day of the holiday season, was a record day for travelers across the country, with the number of flyers up 1.5 percent from a year ago. More than 2 million people were screened at checkpoints by TSA officers, who are considered "essential" employees and thus required to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

TSA confirmed there continues to be a modest uptick in the number of TSA employees calling in sick as the government shutdown continues into its third week. While TSA employees have not yet missed a paycheck, if the shutdown is not resolved by midweek, the agency is unlikely to be able to make payroll for the current pay period.

The agency claimed the number of sick calls by TSA employees at LaGuardia on Sunday was not "unusual" nor a "record" high.

Security supervisors at the airport said in an internal TSA report that photos on social media of massive lines at LaGuardia were due to a higher than expected number of flyers and a "mismanagement of resources" at a critical time. Those officials told TSA headquarters that LaGuardia had the necessary number of staff working Sunday.

Leaders at TSA headquarters were huddled in meetings Monday to work out a contingency plan for moments when staffing issues arise, an official said. The agency is also reviewing options to free up money to make payroll, but it's unclear if the agency will be able to.

Kris Van Cleave contributed reporting.

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