If Congress isn’t able to strike a deal on a short-term government funding bill, the United States government will effectively shut down come Oct. 1, an event that will force all “nonessential” government employees to stop working and, as a result, impact the lives of everyday Americans.
Earlier this week, former presidential candidate and current U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg went on the record about how the shutdown will impact the travel industry, specifically. “Especially when it comes to transportation, the consequences would be disruptive and dangerous,” he said during a press conference.
It also appears Americans are concerned about the potential chaos, too: According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association and market research company Ipsos, “six in ten Americans would cancel or avoid trips by air in the event of a shutdown.”
But is that really necessary? How, exactly, will a potential shutdown affect air travel? Here’s what to know:
Will my flight be delayed or canceled if there’s a shutdown?
If a funding deal isn’t reached, Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Safety Administration staff members will still be required to report to work because they are considered essential employees.
The various air traffic controllers, security screeners and more who make up the workforce will, however, not be paid for their time on site until the government reopens ― at which point they will receive back pay. That can impact workers’ morale and, perhaps, their ability to conduct business.
Government employees who are told to keep working without any idea of when they’ll be paid might decide not to report for duty. The uncertainty is likely to exacerbate stress and mental health issues, and, of course, the whole situation could trigger massive flight delays and cancellations.
During his press conference, Buttigieg also mentioned that, in the event of a shutdown, programs dedicated to training new employees will be stopped. Folks currently in the middle of said programs will be furloughed since the government does not consider their work essential.
“We now have 2,600 air traffic controllers in training. A government shutdown would stop that training,” he said. “Even a shutdown lasting a few weeks could set us back by months or more because of how complex that training is. We cannot afford that kind of politically driven disruption at the very moment when we finally have those air traffic control…