Although service at airports in California has — on the whole — been largely unaffected by the partial government shutdown, the unprecedented and volatile political situation has created unrest among workers, some of whom are planning to demonstrate in Sacramento and Los Angeles this week.
Now that the shutdown is in its fourth week, the uncertain situation has forced some airports to create contingency plans.
"We aren't yet seeing any significant impact, but that could change," said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman with John Wayne Airport in Orange County. "So, in case we end up going into a situation where we have limited Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff and that's causing backups at the checkpoints, we're training John Wayne Airport staff to help with the screening tasks, in cooperation with the TSA."
Thompson said airport staff — which could include administrative staff from public affairs and business development, maintenance, facilities and operations departments — won't be taking on activities that require specialized TSA training, but instead would help to keep lines moving by reminding passengers to remove liquids from their bags, put their electronics in bins and mention all the other requirements to pass through security.
"People just get distracted at checkpoints, so it's really important to have people there reminding them," Thompson said.