Government shutdown: Time to travel?
LOS ANGELES, October 9, 2013 ? While national parks are closing and some national treasures are busy locking the gates, tourism as we know it remains largely unaffected by the draconian standoff in Congress slowly bringing the U.S. government to a deafening halt. Jet travel, car rentals and hotel bookings continue to operate as usual through the shutdown.
There are few reports of TSA delays or longer customs and immigration lines due to the government stoppage. And except for visitors being turned away from grand monuments and wildlife stations out west, the world of travel continues to turn.
If there is a danger at this point, it is not from lack of competent screeners. It would be from faltering aircraft safety inspections and the inadequate manning of aircraft repair stations by government workers who have been furloughed from their positions as federal inspectors.
Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson told reporters last week that his airline has not seen any drop of impact from the impasse.
?We haven?t seen any changes in travel demand at all. Travel demand is strong all over the world at the moment,? he told a reporter for the Dallas News.
Indeed, if anything, demand may be up and all airline posts manned for the demand as planes are flying as full as ever, possibly carrying some furloughed federal employees taking advantage of unscheduled days off.
As a reporter for the travel industry, this author had her antennae up during a recent trip to Europe. On the Delta Air Lines flight outbound, security lines moved as usual and a ?TSA PreCheck? line had two officers handling the few people in that qualified queue, getting them through the screening in less than five minutes. The return via Air France proved to be just as seamless, despite the fact the shutdown had been in effect for full a week. The speedy arrival at LAX during what would be rush hour on a Sunday afternoon had the plane at the gate on time and some 300 passengers moving through the immigration lines well in time to catch the flight?s first pieces of luggage coming through the carousel.
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