At the Airport
Good news, you don’t need to worry about 90-minute delays like those experienced during the sequester. The planes will take off and land on schedule without disruption. As expected, Federal air traffic controllers, as with all essential government personnel, were not furloughed.
But not all travel personnel avoided the furlough. Here’s what was was considered non-essential:
- The FAA: 15,514 Furloughed of 46,070 employees
Nearly 3,000 aviation safety inspectors are being furloughed by the FAA. It was so drastic that union officials initially thought the FAA had made a mistake when they got the notice. Suspended tasks include: development of new air traffic controllers; development of NextGen; Aviation rulemaking; Facility security inspections, evaluations, audits and inspections; Routine personnel security background investigations; Air traffic performance analysis;
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 333 furloughed of 597 employees.
Recalls will not be updated and safety defect complaints will not be processed or investigated.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 0 furloughed of 1,102 employees
- Federal Highway Administration: 0 furloughed of 2,914 employees
- Federal Transit Administration: 501 furloughed of 597 employees
Day to-day transit services are typically paid out of local tax dollars so aren’t interrupted, but projects in planning stages may be affected.
- Federal Railroad Administration: 467 furloughed of 886 employees
- Department of Homeland Security: 31,295 furloughed of 231,117 employees
Requesting a Passport or a Visa
If you’re looking for a last-minute passport or visa, you will be relieved to know that the State Department is accepting and processing applications. The State Department creates enough funds through fees that it is able to support its operation, and the same logic applies for the U.S. Postal Service. Before you leave home, check to make sure that your passport office is open. If the office, is located in a federal building it might be inadvertently impacted by a shutdown.
If history is any indication, passport and visa operations might not be as smooth as anticipated. In the last shutdown in 1995-1996, there were 200,000 passport applications that remained unprocessed. Additionally, in the last shut down 20,000 to 30,000 visa applications went unprocessed every day.
If you are currently traveling, embassies and consulates are open overseas.
US Tourism Will Feel the Pinch
While airports and essential services are open, many of the most popular U.S. attractions are be closed. The shutdown impacts:
- All National Parks
- The Smithsonian museums
- The Washington Monument
- The Statue of Liberty
- Ellis Island
- Independence Hall
- Alcatraz Island
It was originally thought that you would have 48 hours to leave the park and make alternate arrangement. However, parks were closed immediately on Tuesday morning.
Beyond being just inconvenient, a shutdown will result in a significant loss of revenue. In October, the National Parks collectively average 715,000 visitors per day. During the last shutdown during the Clinton era, more than 9 million visitors were turned away from government run attractions. In 2011, a potential shutdown was estimated to result in a $32 million-a-day loss in revenue for the national park system alone.
The museums will take a hit as well. In the last week of September, Smithsonian institutions welcomed 400,000 visitors.
Is history repeating itself? Go back to 2011 when a potential Government Shutdown Meant Big Damage to American Tourism
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com