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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane airport security not affected by TSA sickouts, airport says

Transportation Security Administration Officer Joe Horch scans passengers  at Spokane International Airport on Monday. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane International Airport reported business as usual Monday despite a record number of Transportation Security Administration workers calling in sick nationally, stemming from the partial government shutdown which began a month ago.

Unless the shutdown comes to an end, this Friday will mark the second paycheck missed by 800,000 government workers. The number of sickouts reached 10 percent on Sunday, compared to 3.1 percent on the corresponding Sunday a year ago, the Associated Press reported.

But the shutdown doesn’t seem to have hit the local airport. Spokane International Airport hasn’t had any significant change in security screening wait time, and there hasn’t been an unusual number of TSA workers calling in sick, said Todd Woodard, Spokane International Airport spokesman. He also noted that no security procedures have been adjusted.

“Everything has gone really well, and that’s really a tribute to their commitment to public service and their mission,” Woodard said.

What he had noticed while recently traveling was passengers taking time to thank the TSA agents for being there.

“I always thank them when I come through and I think they appreciate that,” he said. “I heard the exact same thing. Everybody within earshot, every person behind me did the same thing, which is nice.”

Woodard still advises travelers to arrive at the airport 90 minutes prior to their boarding time.

Still, Woodard understands that travelers have to travel through multiple airports to reach their destination and might be stressed about their flights.

“I was on vacation, and I was terrified that I would get stuck.” Woodard said. “I just got back last Monday and that went through my head, I was watching it closely.”

Greenacres resident Perry Ross was at the airport on Monday on his way to Las Vegas for business. He said he travels for business about once a month.

“I’m not worried about it,” Ross said. “I figure if there’s a problem and they’re shutting down airports as a result of it, that’ll be on the news and it would affect my travel plans, but I’m not worried.”

Ross said that he does hope that the shutdown will end soon, but also stressed the importance of border security.

“I think that we can’t just open the borders,” he said. “Look at what is happening in Europe with the migrants coming in from everywhere. When you let immigration run unchecked, it causes problems.”