Saturday, February 23, 2013

Budget Cuts Could Delay Travel

Federal budget cuts are due to hit airlines and airports in the last week of February, bringing a wave of delays, reduced takeoffs and slower security lines that may only get worse as the year goes on and more government furloughs go into effect.

Basically, the Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, said most of the Federal Aviation Administration's 47,000 employees would face one day of furlough per two weeks, which means about 10% fewer workers on any given day on average. Fewer air traffic controllers means less people to handle all the planes in the system. To manage the shift, the FAA would accept fewer planes in the system, the same strategy used when there's bad weather. This means larger mile gaps between flights, so passengers will be forced to sit on tarmacs of face delays while they wait for planes to leave the gate.

There are also expected furloughs of TSA workers, meaning longer security lines, and deplaning from international flights could be slower because Customs and Border Protection agents are expected to work fewer hours. Waits at security  could increase by up to an hour, and waits of four to five hours might be common for overseas travelers.

All the details are a little fuzzy, but things do not look promising for travelers over the next few months, and into the busy summer months. Especially with gas prices rising again. It is very possible that staycation could become another common trend this year.

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