With the threat of a government shutdown, anyone traveling should take note that things could change in a hurry and in a big way.
To find out just where and how much, ConsumerAffairs reached out to Katy Nastro, travel expert with Going.com, and here’s her take:
Areas within travel most impacted by the shutdown
Air travel: For those who are traveling in the near future, flight operations will appear business as usual. However, both TSA agents and ATC personnel will be working without paychecks until the shutdown ends.
National parks: Past shutdowns have led to parks closing or being kept open by a skeleton crew.
Passports: Passport processing is already at an all-time high of 10-13 weeks, and while operations will continue, certain agencies based in government buildings may be impacted.
What the implications are if the shutdown is long
“The biggest takeaway is that the longer this occurs, the greater the impact will be on the travel industry, even if people don’t see an immediate difference on October 1,” Nastro said. The biggest dominoes to fall could include the following:
Air travel: As both workers feel the strain of no pay, we may encounter longer security lines and delayed flights if enough personnel decide to call in sick or are burned out.
Additionally, hiring and training Air Traffic Control personnel will be put on hold which will cause longer delays in this area that is already struggling with staffing issues. The Department of Transportation sees other possible air-related categories that could add further pressure such as field inspections and airworthiness directives.
National Parks: If there is a significant shutdown, parks will be left unmaintained, so things like trash pickup, snow removal, general safety for parkgoers and animals alike – all would be put on hold and may cause longer-term effects.
If you’ve been considering a trip this fall to a national park, you might want to consider alternate plans if this moves forward.
Passports: If the passport agency is based in a government-run building and that building should shutter due to the shutdown, this could add further delay and inconveniences to those looking to travel internationally.
The good news is that you can still mail in your passport or head to an acceptance facility to send in an application to begin the process.
What anyone traveling should do to stay on top of the situation
If you are traveling anywhere in or outside of the U.S., the best method to stay abreast of what’s happening with your flight, train ride, etc. is to download the app of the airline or train (e.g. Amtrak) that you’re using. You can also use FlightAware.com.
And, don’t forget the weather. The Department of Transportation issued weather warnings that may also impact flight schedules for Boston (BOS), New York (EWR, JFK, LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington, DC (BWI, DCA, IAD), San Francisco (SFO), Florida (FLL, MIA, MCO), and Chicago (MDW, ORD).