TSA calls in backup officers as absences of unpaid airport screeners rise

The TSA said unscheduled absences on Saturday reached 8 percent of its 51,000 officers, compared with 3 percent a year ago. The TSA officers are among the some 420,000 government employees who have been deemed essential, and have been ordered to work during the shutdown. That group also includes air traffic controllers.

Members of TSA’s National Deployment Force have been sent to several major airports, including at Newark Liberty International airport, LaGuardia Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said agency spokesman James Gregory.

Last week, Security lines in Atlanta topped an hour due to the shortage of screeners. Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport is bracing for an surge in visitors when it hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

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