Miami airport has double ‘blue flu’ trouble

Bottlenecks expected at major travel link between Yucatan and U.S.

Passengers queue up at Miami International Airport’s passport control zone. Photo: Getty

Miami International Airport will close a terminal early for three days because of a shortage of Transportation Security Administration screeners, airport spokesman Greg Chin said Thursday.

The security checkpoints in terminal G will be closed after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, he said.

Terminal G is one of six in the airport. Flights to and from Merida have been scheduled at Terminal E.

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But travelers could still be bottlenecked at security points.

“Due to an increased number of TSA screeners not reporting to work, we have decided to take this precautionary step and relocate about 12 flights to adjoining concourses in the afternoons,” he said.

Chin said federal screeners are calling in sick at double the normal rate for Miami, one of two hubs travelers in Yucatan use to reach the United States.

TSA managers aren’t confident they will have enough workers to operate all 11 checkpoints throughout the airport at normal hours, CNN reports.

“We felt we had to make a decision before the weekend,” Chin told the Miami Herald. “They’re erring on the side of caution.”

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The government shutdown has left TSA employees working without pay, raising concerns that airports might not be able to provide the usual standard of security.

In a wave of what one federal official has dubbed the “blue flu” — a nod to the blue shirts worn by TSA officers — hundreds of screeners at no fewer than four major airports have called out from their shifts since the shutdown began in December.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello last week acknowledged that “callouts began over the holiday period and have increased,” and said the agency was “closely monitoring the situation.”

Union officials say officers can’t afford to work unpaid. Some skipped work to seek temporary jobs to help make ends meet.

Approximately 51,000 TSA officers are among the 800,000 government employees who are either working unpaid or on furlough and are set to miss their first full paychecks this week.

Sources: CNN, Miami Herald, miami-airport.com

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